Saturday, July 25, 2015

"The Ball" by Iréne Némirovsky (1930, 40 pages, translated by Sandra Smith) - A Post for Paris in July # 6

Paris in July # 6. , hosted by Tamarra of Thyme for Tea, a blog I have followed for years,cd is one of my favorite book blog events.  It covers much more than literature and there are lots of wonderful participant posts online.

Paris in July # 6. has motivated me to read some very interesting works.

1.  "Baum, Gabriel, 1935" by Mavis Gilbert - A wonderful set in Paris short story

2.  "Two Friends" by Guy de Maupassant- Paris in July # 6. Requires reading de Maupassant!

3.  "Mildred Larson" by George Moore- What Paris Meant to the Irish

4.  "The Parisian Stage" by Henry James - an illuminating essay

5.  "The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls" by Marcel Aymé- a new to me writer I will return to

6.   Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris, 1932 by Francine Prose - interesting 

7.  Shocking Paris Soutine, Chagall and the Outlaw Art of Montaparrne by Stanley Meisler-a 
     Well done account of Yiddish emigre artists in Paris

8.  Short Stories about Cats by Three Classic French authors 

9.  Suite Francaise by Iréne Némirovsky- a true masterwork. Paris under the Germans

10.  The End of Evil Ways by Honoré de Balzac - A look at Paris Justice, 1839

11.  Mademoiselle Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda K. Garelick

12.  David Golder by Iréne Némirovsky (A White Russian Family in Paris) 

One of the great things about book blog events like Paris in July # 6 is discovering new to you writers you wish you had known of long ago.   The event motivated me to at last read Suite Francaise by Iréne Némirovsky, a world class literary treasure.  Once I read this knew I wanted to read much more of her work and learn about her life.  My preliminary research indicated she had a near hatred for her mother.  When Némirovsky was arrested and sent to Auschwitz to be executed because she was Jewish her children were hidden for the duration of the war.  After the war ended, they went to visit their grandmother, Némirovsky's mother.  Their grandmother would not answer the door.  She told her grandchildren through the closed door that they needed to go to an orphanage.  

                      You can, it seems to me, almost feel how much both dislike being close

"The Ball" is a delightful story about a fourteen year old girl taking her revenge on her cold uncaring mother.   It is a very funny story, full of social satire.  It also shows how cruelty and coldness to our children can come back to haunt us.  As the story opens a married couple, at the initiative of the wife, are planning their first high society ball.  The husband not long ago became rich through speculation in the stock market.  The wife plans to invite 200 guests.  The invitations and envelopes must be hand written so she allows her daughter to stay up late to help.  An English nanny takes care of the girl and seems closer to her than her mother.  The daughter asks to go to the ball.  The mother at first says "no".  She does not want people to know she has a fourteen year old daughter then she says she can come for thirty minutes.

The household is in a frenzy, the could not care less servants are driven to prepare.  The invitations are given to the nanny to mail.  The wife gets nervous as no R S V Ps come in.  

I don't want to spoil the close.  The daughter gets her revenge in a great way, she shows her own cruelty toward the nanny.  You will love what happens at the ball.  

"The Ball" was a great pleasure to read, very funny at times and acutely observant of family relationships.

I have also completed her considered most autobiographical novel, The Wine of Solitude and hope to post on it soon.


1 comment:

  1. Mel you have added extensively to my list of books to look for and I will be so much better prepared for the next Paris in July. The Wine of Solitude certainly sounds interesting looking forward to your thoughts on that one.


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