Monday, July 25, 2011

Book Review - Dimanche and Other Stories by Irene Nemirovsky

After recently leaving the fractured yet beautiful novel Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, I decided to turn to another of her works to see if her magick still held. Reading the book Dimanche and Other Stories proved to not disappoint in the slightest. Within the book are ten stories of various French people, some good and some very, very bad, and yet one cannot help but want to read more of their life than what is offered on the page. Each story stands on its own merit and was a delight to read, not to mention enjoying the brilliant writing of Nemirovsky once more. For example, a hint of her world from the story The Spectator:

“It’s all so beautiful!” murmured Hugo. “Europe has the charm of those who are going to die,” he said, stroking the river’s gray stone parapet as he went on walking.

And yet another from the story The Confidant:

“…Just think, every time you play, there is at least one person in the concert hall whose voice you become, for a few moments. People are dumb, monsieur. We’re like trees or plants. We suffer and die and no one hears our cries. Still, you know all that.”

My favourite story is Those Happy Shores for a very ironic reason; one of the characters, Ginette, is a “lady of the evening” and currently down on her luck. Men have treated her like garbage and yet she still hopes for the one who will possibly change her current fate. She meets a young woman named Christiane in a bar on a random chance and strikes a friendship and bond with the woman, or so she thinks. Ginette is at the bottom of her barrel and speaking with Christiane, a young woman of means and privilege, gives her more hope for her own life than ever. Towards the end of the story, the reader learns that her happiness is short lived and she returns to her natural state, one of misery, desperation and resignation. Reading about Ginette made the story come alive and showed the world for what it truly is – short, despondent and expected, especially those who have very little or nothing to give.

In my own way, I used this book as a probable filler for Suite Francaise; hearing Nemirovsky’s voice the first time in a broken state required me to give her more than perhaps she wanted in her own writing. Be that as it may, reading Dimanche is like sitting alone in a 24 hour coffee shop filled with colour with a single cup of java endlessly full and being happy about it while the world goes on outside in its forever black and white.

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