A real literary find - an unpublished jewel from the author of the internationally bestselling Suite Française
This perfect gem of a novel by the author of the posthumously acclaimed and bestselling Suite Française 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'Evèque where Suite Française 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. Némirovsky looks at her characters, both young and old, with the same clear-eyed distance and humanity as she displayed in Suite Française, 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..
“Fire in the Blood will delight her thousands of devotees... She is so clever, quick and observant, that every character in the story bounds into life and clichés are forgotten in the sheer longing to turn every page... The last lines of Fire in the Blood quiver with all of Némirovsky's wry wisdom and with the emotional intelligence that is her greatest gift as a writer - blessings she uses to fascinating effect in this fine novella”
Carmen Callil, Financial Times
“Némirovsky's voice is not loud, flamboyant or morose. It is clear and steady. It is the steadiness, the slow burn that does the work”
“This slender volume packs in some hefty emotions...jealousy, bitterness, greed and of course, passion”
“The novella is a model of storytelling... What a hellish Arcadia Nemirovsky conjures up, and with what refinement and subtlety”
“A gem-like novella, polished, multi-faceted and brilliant; a sweet pastoral that turns bracingly bitter; beautifully poised between innocence and experience, desire and death. I look forward to reading it again”
“Nemirovsky is one of the great literary rediscoveries of the past few years... her flair for gradually laying bare the long-buried secrets and tragedies of people's lives is brilliantly realised”
The Sunday Times
“Like Chekhov, she observes and powerfully expresses the detail that fixes the scene.”