> Skip to content

A remarkable, panoramic biography of the author of Suite Française, a moving portrait of a woman and of her extraordinary times, and a sweeping saga of a turbulent period of European history, holding up a mirror to the world of publishing, intellectual thought, society and the darker shadow of prejudice between the wars.

Irène Némirovksy’s own life was as dramatic as any fiction. Dead at 39, author of 16 novels, a biography of Chekhov and many stories, few writers enjoy a posthumous resurgence as astonishing as hers after the international triumph of Suite Française. She was born in 1903 in Kiev to a well-off Jewish family. The authors of this fascinating biography have had access to previously unpublished documents and to surviving family members in Russia, researching her childhood in the Ukraine, and tracing her odyssey first to St Petersburg, where her father was a successful financier, and then, as the family was forced to flee the Russian Revolution, to Finland, Sweden and finally France in 1919.

They settled in Paris, and in 1926 she married another Jewish émigré, Michel Epstein. With the publication of David Golder in 1929 – delivered to a publisher just before the delivery of her first daughter, Denise – Irene swiftly became a highly respected and successful writer. Minutely considering and defending


An illuminating new biography, which draws heavily upon diaries and notebooks that have resurfaced in the last few years

J.M. Coetzee, The New York Review of Books

In its respectfulness and its dense poetic asides, beautifully translated by Euan Cameron, this tremendous biography is also very French

Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph

Her biographers have performed a remarkable feat of research, collating logn-lost notes and fragments

Max Hastings, The Sunday Times

An important contribution to understanding a complex, painful but ultimately triumphant story

The Sunday Telegraph, Seven Magazine

With this detailed and empathetic biography we have a chance to discover the woman behind it ... This biography is excellent at explaining Nemirovsky's process of literary creation and her psychological wounds

Christopher Silvester, Express

A memorable portrait of a strong, determined, sarcastic and humorous woman

Caroline Moorehead, Literary Review

Painstaking biography

Patrick Marnham, Spectator

Lavish in style and high in ambition

Iain Finlayson, The Times

Phillipponnat and Lienhardt scrupulously examine the extent to which Nemirovksy mined her own life and parental relationships for her fiction

Claire Allfree, Metro

A re-reading of Allan Massie's masterful drama about Vichy France.

Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph, Christmas round up

The author of Suite Francaise had a life as dramatic and as tragic as her fiction

Telegraph Review

A fascinating biography

Lesley McDowell, Herald

This book is excellent

Andrew Holgate, Sunday Times

This dramatic biography recreates her tragic life and the turbulent times in which she lived...Nemirovsky is one of those rare writers whose life is every bit as interesting as her work

Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday

This is a scholarly biography of a literary paragon... It is saturated with her writings, revealing her passions, hubris, moods and anxieties, as well as her thoughts of fiction, Jewishness and mothers... Russian social history, anti-Semitism and the Vichy regime's collusion with the Nazis are handled adroitly

Maggie Armstrong, Irish Times

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    May 2, 2011


    496 pages

    RRP $29.99

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    July 1, 2010

    Vintage Digital

    496 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
    • iBooks NZ
    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ