Dimanche and Other Stories by Irene Nemirovsky

dimanche-other-stories-irene-nemirovsky-paperback-cover-art

About the book

This is a collection of ten short stories published posthumously in 2000.  The English translation by Bridget Patterson was published ten years later.  Most of the stories are about relationships between family members, and a few are set during and around times of war.  The stories are:

  • Dimanche (Sunday) – about a woman with an adulterous husband and a carefree teenaged daughter
  • Les rivages heureux (Those Happy Shores) – about an ambitious, recently-engaged young woman and an embittered middle-aged prostitute
  • Liens du sang (Flesh and Blood) – about four siblings dealing with each other, their respective families, and their mother
  • Fraternite (Brotherhood) – about a man waiting for the train with a stranger
  • La femme de don Juan (Don Juan’s Wife) – a governess writing to her previous ward about the latter’s parents
  • Le sortilege (The Spell) – about the unusual living arrangements and behavior of a Russian family
  • Le spectateur (The Spectator) – about a man striving to be a neutral during the war
  • Monsieur Rose (Mr Rose) – about a man striving to maintain a detached and uneventful existence
  • La Confidente (The Confidante) – a man asking his wife’s friend about the circumstances surrounding her death
  • L’inconnu (The Unknown Soldier) – a man telling his brother about killing a German soldier

Some thoughts

I picked this book up because another of Nemirovsky’s posthumously published books, Fire in the Blood, left me impressed and very much interested in her body of work.  I regret to confess that Dimanche left me a little disappointed.  The only stories I liked were Don Juan’s Wife and The Spectator.  The first four stories read too much like soap operas, complete with contrived plots and forced drama.  The rest were, in my opinion, nothing special.  I do appreciate that she tried to capture so much raw and honest emotion, but I feel that this was done in manner that was more literal than literary.

Passages I liked

“Who dares to admit that even the most devoted love contains a small amount of boredom and irritation?”

“There is a lot of blood, and a lot of tears, but they are flowing a long way away from you…”

“How strong the human body seems when it’s another man’s flesh that bleeds!”

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4 responses

  1. Pingback: 2013 TBR Pile Challenge | Insatiable Bookworm

  2. Pingback: 2013 European Reading Challenge | Insatiable Bookworm

    • i got stuck for a month on “the name of the rose” (umberto eco is a hardcore genius!), but i am moving on now. will post some reviews soon.

      p.s. i really love your challenge 🙂

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