In haunting ways this wonderful, compelling novel prefigures "Suite Francaise" and some of the themes of Nemirovsky's great unfinished sequence of novels. "All Our Worldly Goods", though, is complete, and exquisitely so - a perfect novel in its own right. First published in France in 1947, after the author's death, it is a gripping story of family life and starcrossed lovers, of money and greed, set against the backdrop of France from 1911 to 1940 between two terrible wars. Pierre and Agnes marry for love against the wishes of his parents and the family patriarch, the tyrannical industrialist Julien Hardelot, provoking a family feud which cascades down the generations.This is "Balzac" or "The Forsyte Saga" on a smaller, more intimate scale, the bourgeoisie observed close-up with Nemirovsky's characteristically sly humour and clear-eyed compassion. Full of drama and heartbreak, telling observation of the devastating effects of two wars on a small town and an industrial family, this is Nemirovsky at the height of her powers.
The exodus and flow of refugee humanity through the town in both wars foreshadows "Suite Francaise", but differently, because this is Northern France, near the Somme, and the town itself is twice razed. Taut, evocative and beautifully paced, the novel points up with heartbreaking detail and clarity how close were those two wars, how history repeated itself, tragically, shockingly...It opens in the Edwardian era, on a fashionable Normandy beach, and ends with a changed world, under Nazi occupation.
Reads like prequel to Suite Francaise, but is a perfect novel in its own right - a gripping story of family life, of money and love, set against the backdrop of France in two terrible world wars.
Irene Nemirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903, the daughter of a successful Jewish banker. In 1918 her family fled the Russian Revolution for France where she became a bestselling novelist, author of David Golder, Le Bal and other works published in her lifetime or soon after, as well as the posthumous Suite Francaise and Fire in the Blood. In July 1942 she was arrested by the French police and interned in Pithiviers concentration camp, and from there immediately deported to Auschwitz where she died in August 1942.