A second look at Nemirovsky
By Kimberly Richardson
After recently reading the fractured yet beautiful novel Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky, I decided to turn to another of her works to see if her magic still held. Reading Dimanche and Other Stories proved to not disappoint in the slightest. Within the book are ten stories of various French people, some good and some very, very bad. Yet one cannot help but want to read more of their life than what is offered on the page. Each story stands on its own merit and was a delight to read, not to mention enjoying the brilliant writing of Nemirovsky once more.
My favorite story is “Those Happy Shores” for a very ironic reason. One of the characters, Ginette, is a “lady of the evening” and currently down on her luck. Men have treated her like garbage, and yet she still hopes for the one who will possibly change her current fate. She meets a young woman named Christiane in a bar on a random chance and strikes a friendship and bond with the woman, or so she thinks. Ginette is at the bottom of her barrel and speaking with Christiane, a young woman of means and privilege, gives her hope for her own life. Toward the end of the story the reader learns that her happiness is short lived, and she returns to her natural state, one of misery, desperation, and resignation. Reading about Ginette made the story come alive and showed the world for what it truly is – short, despondent, and expected, especially for those who have very little or nothing to give.
In my own way, I used this book as filler for Suite Francaise; hearing Nemirovsky’s voice the first time in a broken state (she died before finishing the book) required me to give her more than perhaps she wanted in her own writing. Be that as it may, reading Dimanche is like happily sitting alone in a colorful 24 hour coffee shop with a bottomless cup of java, while the world goes on outside in black and white.