In haunting ways, this gorgeous novel prefigures Irène Némirovsky’s masterpieceSuite Française. Set in France between 1910 and 1940 and first published in France in 1947, five years after the author’s death, All Our Worldly Goods is a gripping story of war, family life and star-crossed lovers. Pierre and Agnes marry for love against the wishes of his parents and his grandfather, the tyrannical family patriarch. Their marriage provokes a family feud that cascades down the generations. This brilliant novel is full of drama, heartbreak, and the telling observations that have made Némirovsky’s work so beloved and admired.
A world at war ruptures the orderly lives of two French provincial families connected by marriage in this serenely beautiful tale by French novelist N mirovsky (Suite Fran aise). In the northern village of Saint-Elme, early in the 20th century, Pierre, the scion of the Hardelot Paper Mill family, marries Agn s Florent, whose mother is a Parisian widow of the lower middle class. The union defies Pierre's redoubtable grandfather, and the newlyweds are cast out of the village. Yet together they thrive and have a son before Pierre is called to fight in WWI. "He didn't think he would be saved, he alone among thousands of men," yet he is, returning from the front a wounded man. The villagers in tiny Saint-Elme flee the encroaching Germans, lose their husbands and sons in battle, and watch their children grow up only to face another world war. The bourgeois importance of keeping up appearances, so skillfully delineated ("Society relies entirely on nuances," notes Pierre's father, to which his mother replies, "And stupidity."), is both undermined and bolstered by the love between Agn s and Pierre. This is another stunning translation by Smith of the tremendously stirring N mirovsky, who died in Auschwitz at the age of 39.