Monday, April 13, 2015

The Fires of Autumn - Book Review

After reading Irene Nemirovsky's masterpiece Suite Francaise, I immediately became enchanted by her insightful and luscious fiction. A few years later, I read and reviewed her All Our Worldly Goods.  I was anxious for the opportunity to read The Fires of Autumn as it has recently been translated and republished.

Written while Nemirovsky was in hiding in France, The Fires of Autumn takes its French characters from the horror of the first World War and delivers them only two decades later into the horrors of the second World War. In between, the former soldiers and the women they left behind struggle to survive in a changed world. Values, morals and belief systems have been shattered. Money speaks and corruption is rampant.

Bernard Jacquelain is so young when he first enlists in the war. Surviving when so many others didn't, he's only sure that he no longer wants his old life when he returns from the war. He seeks the glamour and money that his new mistress's husband can provide and becomes ensnared in the corruption.

Initially, I felt disconnected from the  main characters. The reader is quickly introduced to many characters but as the story moves along their lives are weaved together in truly marvelous and thought provoking tale.  I was enraptured by their lives of dissatisfaction as they each tried to fill the unquenchable void left behind after the first war. I cannot even fathom the heartache and defeat the people must have felt after one war to find themselves headed straight into another war so soon. The selfishness and greed that took over their lives is met with horrifying consequences.

Nemirovsky was a great writer and I so appreciate her ability to write completely believable characters who are deeply flawed and yet deeply feel. Living through the wars, she was uniquely able to capture the emotions and actions of the people. While more depressing generally than All Our Worldly Goods, The Fires of Autumn is a valuable work of literature.

The Fires of Autumn by Irene Nemirovsky was republished by Vintage in March 2015.

**I received a complimentary copy of The Fires of Autumn. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.**

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