Friday, October 19, 2007

Fire in the Blood

Title: Fire in the Blood
Author: Irène Némirovsky
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 138
Edition: Hardcover
Publication: Alfred A.Knopf

"When you're twenty, love is like a fever, it makes you almost delirious. When it's over you can hardly remember how it happened. . . . Fire in the blood, how quickly it burns itself out. Faced with this blaze of dreams and desires, I felt so old, so cold, so wise. . ."

Written in 1941, only a part of the manuscript of 'Fire in the Blood' was thought to exist before. Olivier Philipponnat and Patrick Lienhardt, who were commissioned to write Némirovsky's biography, uncovered the missing manuscript amidst other papers Némirovsky had given for safe-keeping to her editor. Originally translated from French by Sandra Smith, the novel is now published nearly 40 years after her death.

Years before the onset of WWII. A small rural village in France is warming up to the chilly draughts of Autumn. Sylvestre (a.k.a Uncle Silvio), a middle-aged man, is back in his hovel, after a lifetime of travel seeking fortune. He enjoys a perfect evening smoking pipe by the fire, while sipping a bottle of warm red wine. Although Silvio relishes his solitude, he treasures the time spent with his cousin Hélène's family. A family reunion brings out some intimate stories of the past. As Hélène and François reminisce about their youth, it turns out that Hélène's first marriage to a sick old man left her with some unhappy memories and François had to wait for years before he took Hélène's hand in marriage. Now, all they wished for their daughter Colette is a happy married life with her fiancé Jean Dorin. But, Colette's heart lies somewhere else. Not too long after their wedding, Jean meets a mysterious death. Suspicion arises; investigation follows; treasured family secrets and betrayals are out in the open; a whole slew of unexpected events slowly unravel. And now, not just Colette, but Uncle Silvio is in the thick of it, too...What started out to be a slow read, raced to the end for a nail-biting finish!

Némirovsky's previous novel 'Suite Française' achieved phenomenal success selling over 1.5 million copies worldwide since its publication in France in 2004. In this novel, she proves her mettle in portraying the complex emotions hidden beneath the many facades. Not a literary masterpiece, but definitely an entertaining story. If you are looking for a quick engaging read, go for it!

My Rating: 3.5/5


Radha said...

oh i've heard so much about 'Suite Francaise'!!!
hadnt come across "fire in the blood" before, but it seems interesting.

Literary Feline said...

Thank you for the great review! I think I will add this one to my wish list. I have Suite Francaise sitting on my TBR shelf at the moment and am looking forward to eventually reading that one too.

Happy Reader said...

@Radha, @Literary Feline ~ Thanks! Both 'Suite Francaise' and 'Fire in the Blood' turned out to be interesting reads. I hope you do get to read them.

Lotus Reads said...

Chitts, so glad you reviewed this for us. BBC 4 recently adapted "Fire in the Blood" for their program "Book of the Week" and I managed to tape it. I look forward to listening to it soon.

Happy Reader said...

@Lotus ~ Thank you so much for mentioning about the 'Book of the Week' program. I would love to hear what they have to say about the book!