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About the book
  • Published: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409078807
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 496

The Life of Irene Nemirovsky


A remarkable, panoramic biography of the author of Suite Française.

Irène Némirovsky's own life was as dramatic as any fiction. Few writers enjoy posthumous success as astonishing as hers after the international triumph of Suite Française. She was born in 1903 in Kiev to a well-off Jewish family, but died in Auschwitz only 39 years later. With her parents she fled the Russian Revolution, eventually settling in France. With the publication of David Golder in 1929 - delivered to a publisher just before the birth of her first daughter - Irène swiftly became an acclaimed and successful writer. When France fell to the Nazis, Irène and her family took refuge in a small Burgundy village, where she finished two more novels and began Suite Française. Finally, in July 1942 Irène was arrested by the French police and deported.

Her biographers take advantage of access to diaries, unpublished documents and surviving family to examine Irène's remarkable life, from pogroms in Ukraine to gilded holidays in Biarritz, and her troubled relationship with her vain, difficult mother. The result is a brilliant portrait of an exceptional writer and of a turbulent period of European history.

  • Pub date: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781409078807
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 496

About the Authors

Patrick Lienhardt

Olivier Philipponnat and Patrick Lienhardt are the authors of an acclaimed biography of Roger Stéphane. For this biography of Nemirovsky they have had unprecedented access to unpublished letters, notebooks and archives.

Olivier Philipponnat

Olivier Philipponnat and Patrick Lienhardt are the authors of acclaimed biographies of Roger Stéphane and Irène Némirovsky, for which they had unprecedented access to unpublished letters, notebooks and archives.

Praise for The Life of Irene Nemirovsky

“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

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