Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Wine of Solitude by Irene Nemirovsky

The Wine of Solitude is the second book I've read by Irene Nemirovsky, a Jewish novelist born in the Ukraine who lived and worked in France and died in Auschwitz. The first book I read by her, Fire in the Blood, was in 2010, and this was nearly three years later (yes, I'm still catching up on old reviews). Honestly, I can't tell you why I haven't read more, because the truth is every word I've read by Nemirovsky has blown me away.

At the centre of The Wine of Solitude is a young girl, Helene, intelligent and lost, searching and alone. There are a slew of complicated relationships, with her incredibly vain mother, her father, her mother's lover. Although the novel begins in the Ukraine, then moves to Russia, Finland, and France, as the family flees the Russian Revolution and World War I. Although the historical aspect is really interesting, this is really a story about Helene coming-of-age in a dysfunctional family and world. 

The writing in The Wine of Solitude is beautiful, and out of the whole novel one quote really stuck with me, even now, a year after reading it:
I may be alone, but my solitude is powerful and intoxicating.
That said, I didn't have the strongest emotional connection to the characters in the story, I felt like I was at a distance to them, and so it was a book I often put down and picked up again. The words captured me, but the people did not. Reading The Wine of Solitude definitely reminded me how much I still need to read Nemirovsky's most famous novel, Suite Francaise.

Release Date: 1935, English translation: September 18th, 2012  Pages: 248  Format: Egalley
Source: Edelweiss  Publisher: Vintage   Buy It: Book Depository

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