Reads like prequel to Suite Française, but is a perfect novel in its own right - a gripping story of family life, of money and love, set against the backdrop of France in two terrible world wars.
In haunting ways this wonderful, compelling novel prefigures Suite Française and some of the themes of Némirovsky’s great unfinished sequence of novels. All Our Worldly Goods, though, is complete, and exquisitely so – a perfect novel in its own right. First published in France in 1947, after the author’s death, it is a gripping story of family life and starcrossed lovers, of money and greed, set against the backdrop of France from 1911 to 1940 between two terrible wars.
Pierre and Agnès marry for love against the wishes of his parents and the family patriarch, the tyrannical industrialist Julien Hardelot, provoking a family feud which cascades down the generations. This is Balzac or The Forsyte Saga on a smaller, more intimate scale, the bourgeoisie observed close-up with Némirovsky’s characteristically sly humour and clear-eyed compassion. Full of drama and heartbreak, telling observation of the devastating effects of two wars on a small town and an industrial family, this is Némirovsky at the height of her powers. The exodus and flow of refugee humanity through the town in both wars foreshadows Suite Française, but differently, because this is Northern France, near the Somme, and the town itself is twice razed. Taut, evocative and beautifully paced, the novel points up with heartbreaking detail and clarity how close were those two wars, how history repeated itself, tragically, shockingly... It opens in the Edwardian era, on a fashionable Normandy beach, and ends with a changed world, under Nazi occupation.
“A quietly experimental work that combines the sweep of a 19th century novel - albeit in exquisite miniature - with a modernist's multiple perspectives”
“A gorgeous novel - witty, tender and true”
“A compelling tale of family life during two horrifying wars in France, and the excruciating inevitability of history repeating itself”
Scotland on Sunday
“Read without knowledge of Némirovsky's own story, All Our Worldy Goods would be a delicate and subtle study of lives swept up by forces beyond their control or understanding. Knowing what we know, its optimistic conclusion is as poignant as anything can be”
“A remarkable novel...Beautifully translated...her voice, compassionate yet always shrewd, with its sharp portrait of France at war and during the optimistic and confused Twenties and early Thirties, is always distinctive”
“A slender, elegant book which displays an unbroken respect for the resilience of the human spirit”
“Rich in illuminating vignettes...Nemirovsky is a novelist who makes us see...it's a work of great intelligence and fine sensibility”
“Beautifully translated...full of subtle humour and insight”
“The ephemeral nature of life and the value of enduring love are depicted without sanctimony and, although the pace is swift, Nemirovsky's eye remains steady”
“All Nemirovsky's talent is apparent in her first novel: her pitiless gaze and her generous heart ... Suite Francaise may take the crown, but her other works confirm that she was not simply the chronicler of June 1940, but a writer with a very broad canvas who has finally found her place in the history of literature.”
“A complete and vivid prelude to Suite Francaise”
Natalie Sandison, The Times Review
“Elegantly translated, Nemirovsky's spare, unadorned prose captures the rigid social strata of provincial northern France and spans two world wars”
“Posthumous gem ... offers a deftly detailed portrait of French society during the period”
Sally Cousins, Sunday Telegraph
William Leith, London Evening Standard & London Lite
William Leith, The Scotsman
“A beautiful writer - lucid, bright ... She misses nothing.”