August 10, 2009

Fire in the Blood - Irene Nemirovsky

When you're twenty love is like a fever, it makes you almost delirious. When it is over you can hardly remember how it happened... Fire in the blood, how quickly it burns itself out.

I actually finished Fire in the Blood a while ago now so my memory being what it is means my recollection of it has faded somewhat - not ideal for writing a review!

I do remember that this book seemed way too short - I wanted so much more, not that I felt it ended unfinished in any way.

I first discovered Nemirovsky's writing in Suite Francaise - a book I completely devoured - and when I saw a practically perfect copy of Fire in the Blood in a local second hand bookshop I picked it up quickly.

Fire in the Blood is set in a rural French town in Burgundy and it follows the deceptively simple but increasingly complex story of Silvio and his extended family. At first I thought this book was going to be a reflective story of this family - but it takes an unexpected turn and goes down (what was for me) a completely different path.

The writing was elegant and helped me to develop a clear picture of each character while at the same time allowing parts of them to be kept hidden until the right moment.

Another beautiful Nemirovsky book for me - have other people read any of her other work?


Serena said...

Isn't it great when you read a book, but you just want more!

Bybee said...

I saw this everywhere for a while, but after I read and loved Suite Francaise and was looking for Fire in the Blood, it disappeared! Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Suite Francaise - the second part at least - was wonderful :)

so good to hear she continues that elegant style of hers in other works!

JoAnn said...

Suite Francaise was one of my favorites the year I read it. I heard about Fire in The Blood shortly after I started blogging. Read and reviewed it last February. Here's the link:

I'm still on the lookout for more of Nemirovsky's books.

Hannah Furst said...

I recently saw your post about reading Irène Némirovsky's Fire in the Blood. I wanted to pass along some information about an exciting exhibition closing August 30 about Némirovsky's life, work, and legacy. I urge you to see Woman of Letters: Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage —A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in New York City. The exhibition includes powerful rare artifacts —including the valise in which the original manuscript for Suite Française was found, as well as many personal papers and family photos. The majority of these documents and artifacts have never been outside of France. For fans of her work, this exhibition is an opportunity to really “get to know” Irene. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn more about this beloved writer! And for those who can’t visit, there is a special website devoted to her story

Although we are in the lazy days of summer, book clubs and groups are invited to the Museum for tours and discussions in the exhibition’s adjacent Salon (by appointment). It is the Museum’s hope that the exhibit will engage visitors and promote dialogue about this extraordinary writer and the complex time in which she lived and died. To book a group tour, please contact Chris Lopez at 646.437.4304 or Please visit our website at for up-to-date information about upcoming public programs or to join our e-bulletin list.

Thanks for sharing this info with your readers. If you need any more, please do not hesitate to contact me at

Anonymous said...

I love that quote at the beginning of your review -- how true!

I've never read anything by Nemirovsky, but heard such great things about her books. I'll definitely look for this one soon!

Danielle said...

I read this when it was republished here and really liked it--but it was a slim novel! Still very elegant writing. I still need to read Suite Francaise, and I also have a book of two novellas called Le Bal on hand.

Anonymous said...

I am going to have to say something a bit outrageous... i didnt like Suite Francaise. I don't know itf it was the timing I read it or what I just couldnt get on with it. I have kept it though to try again one day. This sounds like its much better, and maybe reading more of her short works will encourage me to read Suite Francaise again more.

Steph said...

I haven't read any Nemirovsky yet, but I do have a copy of Suite Francaise which I'm looking forward to. If that snippet you posted is an indication of her writing, then I know I'm in for a treat!

Karen said...

Hi Serena - It is great to discover a book like this.

Hi Bybee - what a shame!! I hope you are able to track down a copy.

Hi Aimee - I think I actually like the first part of SF better!

Hi JoAnn - she is an amazing author - with an amazing story of her own.

Hi Hannah - thanks so much for the information.

Hi Meg - I would definitely recommend that you check this author out.

Hi Danielle - elegant writing is such a great way to describe this one. Just the type of writing I can't get enough of!

Hi savidgereads - I gave SF to my best friend after I read it and she felt the same way as you - just couldn't get in to it at all. But she did try it again another time and then really enjoyed it. Sometimes I think timing plays a big part in liking a book or not - but sometimes I just give in and admit that some books are just not for me!

Hi Steph - I hope you enjoy it when you get to it. Looking forward to hearing what you think.

claire said...

I've had this on hand since the beginning of the year but kept holding off because I wanted to save it! I wanted to pick up Suite Francaise then, but the copy was a little damaged, so I got this instead. I love that cover, don't you?

Karen said...

Hi Claire - it is a gorgeous cover - I think all of the covers of her books are divine.

Jodie said...

I remember this being amazing (although I find it hard to remember much of the detail - a murder, an affair, a mill). I ahven't read 'Suite Francais' yet but the short work 'The Ball' is fantastic.

Karen said...

Hi Jodie - it sounds like you remember it pretty well to me!!

Marg said...

This is my favourite piece by Irene Nemirovsky. The others I have read include Le Bal, Snow in Autumn, David Golder and of course Suite Francaise.

Karen said...

Hi Marg - sounds like you have read quite a few of her books. I will have to keep an eye out for the others you have mentioned.

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