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Description - Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky

This perfect gem of a novel by the author of the posthumously acclaimed and bestselling "Suite Francaise" has never previously been published and was discovered only recently in separate archive files. A couple of pages were in the famous suitcase which her daughters saved, and the balance had been deposited with a family friend and editor during the war. A morality tale with doubtful morals, a story of murder, love and betrayal in rural France, "Fire in the Blood", planned in 1937, written in 1941, is set in a small village, based on Issy-l'Eveque where "Suite Francaise" was written, and brilliantly prefigures the village community in her later masterpiece.An old man looks back on a chequered life with secret regrets, concealing a truth he will not reveal until the end. "Fire in the Blood" is a small and beautiful chamber piece which starts quietly, lyrically, but then races away with revelations and narrative twists in a story about young women forced into marriages with old men, about mothers and daughters, stepmothers and stepdaughters, youthful passions and the regrets of old age, about peasant communities and the way they hide their secrets. Nemirovsky looks at her characters, both young and old, with the same clear-eyed distance and humanity as she displayed in "Suite Francaise", unpeeling layer after layer. Atmospheric and haunting as "Embers" and with the crystalline perfection of "Chekhov", "Fire in the Blood" is a gripping literary find..

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780701181833
ISBN-10: 0701181834
Format: Hardback
(204mm x 138mm x 21mm)
Pages: 176
Imprint: Chatto & Windus
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 27-Sep-2007
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Fire in the Blood by Irene Nemirovsky

US Kirkus Review » Following the discovery and publication of the French novelist's Suite Francaise (2006), here's another lost work: a short elegiac novel about the brief yet passionate loves and infidelities of youth. The best guess is that Nemirovsky (1903 - 1942) worked on this novel between 1938 and 1942, when she was deported to Auschwitz. The first-person narrator is Silvio, a middle-aged man living in Burgundy, an agriculturally rich region whose small landowners and farmers are suspicious and dour. As a young man, Silvio left this stifling community to sow his wild oats and work his way around the world, "propelled forward by the fire in my young blood" - echoes of Joseph Conrad's Youth. Now, all passion spent, his inheritance squandered and his lands sold, he lives alone with only his dog for company. Nearby live his cousin Helene and her husband Francois, a devoted couple, the picture of domestic tranquility. The marriage of their daughter Colette to Jean, a gentle young miller, sets the plot in motion. Early in their marriage, Colette takes a lover, experiencing like Silvio that "fire in the blood." There is, however, a complication. The lover, Marc, already has a liaison with another woman, the unhappily married ward of Helene's half-sister. One night there is an "accident"; Jean is found dead in the river. It emerges that Jean had lost a struggle with another man; Francois, never dreaming his daughter had a lover, wants to involve the police. Eventually Colette's parents learn the truth, which in turn forces Helene to make a stunning confession of her own about her young, passionate self, and induces in Silvio the great mournful cry, "I want my youth back." There is one puzzling omission at the end which suggests Nemirovsky, a careful plotter, had loose ends to tie up. Neither a masterpiece nor a curiosity but an elegant expression of universal longings rooted in a specific milieu, provincial France, that's observed with a caustic brilliance. (Kirkus Reviews)


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Author Biography - Irene Nemirovsky

Irene Nemirovksy was born in Kiev in 1903, the daughter of a successful Jewish banker. In 1918 her family fled the Russian Revolution for France where she became a bestselling novelist, author of David Golder, Le Bal and other works published in her lifetime, as well as the posthumous Suite Francaise. Prevented from publishing when the Germans occupied France in 1940, she stayed with her husband and two small daughters in the small village of Issy-l'Eveque (in German occupied territory) where she had moved from Paris just before the invasion. In July 1942 she was arrested by the French police and interned in Pithiviers concentration camp, and from there immediately deported to Auschwitz where she died in August 1942. The first French publication of Fire in the Blood, by the publishers who discovered and published Suite Francaise, was in March 2007.

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