All Our World­ly Goods

Irene Nemirovsky
  • Review
By – November 7, 2011

When Irène Némirovsky died in Auschwitz in 1942, only months before the death of her hus­band, Michel Epstein, she left behind two daugh­ters, Denise Epstein and Élis­a­beth Gille, and the unfin­ished man­u­script for her now-famous nov­el Suite Française.

San­dra Smith, who trans­lat­ed Suite Française into Eng­lish, has also trans­lat­ed oth­er books by Némirovsky; the most recent of these to reach the North Amer­i­can mar­ket is All Our World­ly Goods, which was orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in France in 1947. At the out­set of the nov­el, when Pierre Harledot goes against his par­ents’ wish­es, break­ing off his engage­ment to Simone Renaudin in favor of Agnès Flo­rent, he sets in motion a series of events through which the fam­i­lies and off­spring become increas­ing­ly entwined. In this way, in All Our World­ly Goods, which leaves off after the Ger­man occu­pa­tion of Saint-Elme, Némirovsky pro­vides a fas­ci­nat­ing com­men­tary on the per­son­al and social effects of war by explor­ing the inter­ac­tions of three fam­i­lies over mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions against the back­drop of the First and Sec­ond World Wars in France.

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