Tag Archives: France

Fire in Blood (Irène Némirovsky) – Review

Fire in the bloodFire in Blood by Irène Némirovsky
Age: Adult
Genre: Fiction
Location: France
Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition
ISBN: 978-0739357767
3 CDs
Format: Audio Book

Set in the indiscreet countryside of France, Nemirovsky weaves a tale of infidelity and the bonds of family. The story is narrated by Silvio, an elderly uncle watching the events unfold as tragedy and betrayal engulfs his niece Collette and surrounding neighbors.

The story is very subtle, and parts of it reminded me strongly of Anna Karenina and her dissatisfaction with her life. The story is very slowly paced, so I’m lucky I had the audio book to keep my attention. I don’t think I would have been so lucky or attentive with the print. The characters are very nuanced and Nemirovsky has a great eye for detailing the simple things in life.

The short novel is about a number of things; age v. youth, solitude v. society, passion v. complacency. As the narrator, Silvio is old and jaded. He wasted his youth and now tries to live below the radar of society, minding his own business. His family, is not so lucky. Younger and with more to learn, they experience the pain of love and betrayal in front of Silvio’s eyes. This often lead to many introspective thoughts by Silivio. Those internal monologues I enjoyed the most. I didn’t particularly care for any of the characters other than Silvio. I found then somewhat vapid.

This is my first introduction to Nemirovsky, but will not be the last. Her short life ended tragically in a concentration camp during World World II. As a result, her only other novel Suite Francaise was found in two parts and was carefully pieced together and highly edited. I can only image what great works she would have continued to pen had she lived.

Book 26 of 2011

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Currently Reading

So, I finally settled on a book to read. I had found The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of Their Virtues. by Susan Griffin, on a “Free Books” desk in the Humanities Department. Ever since seeing Moulin Rouge and reading Memoirs of a Geisha, this entire world seems very interesting and unique to me. The whole history of prostitution is enlightening about society and how it has changed over the years. During the classical period in Greece, prostitutes were given more respect and value by men. Although it seems that women that are outgoing, charming and put themselves out there, are given more respect than the overly moral women that are prudish. 

As much as I like the content, the author’s writing style is really annoying with long run-on sentences, paragraphs that either lead nowhere or just repeat what was said 2 pages earlier. The main focus seems to be on courtesans in France in real life (Madame Du Barry) or in various operas, plays and literature by French authors. What I do appreciate is that the author so far, has managed to stay indifferent about the topic. There is no bias as to whether this profession is moral or not, but just gives a history as to why its a part of society, how it came to be and how it is viewed throughout history.