Dimanche And Other Stories

Dimanche and Other Stories (Vintage International)

Irène Némirovsky’s life was cut short at the age of 39 in 1942 at Auschwitz. I wish she’d had at least a decade more to continue to hone her craft. This is another Persephone title, #87, but I’d have to put it higher on the yawn scale than the other gems I’m used to. Maybe that is a result of the translation? I read Bridget Patterson’s translation from French. It’s a collection of short-ish stories (one is 60 pages) filled with brooding, families, ambivalence about Jewish identity, and towards the end, bloody war stories. In the longest, Flesh and Blood, an old woman gathers her family around her for their weekly Sunday visit, three sons with their wives, all awkwardness, only telling her good news and thus not having much to say. She survives a night of illness when they all think she’s going to kick it, one of her sons prepares to run away from his life with the financial help of his brothers. My favorite story was the first, the eponymous story of the book, Dimanche/Sunday. Here a Parisian wife whose husband is surely having an affair relishes the quiet house when her daughter leaves for a secret meetup with a man. The 20-year-old is stood up, and has a moment of realization that this is life, she’ll remember the door slamming and the sounds of the bar until the very end of her life.