...a personal, poignant, and perceptive account ... The author handles this complicated subject — which has created a cottage industry among academics and fueled very public debates — with lightly worn erudition and deeply felt compassion ... With her own knack for nuance, Suleiman captures the quality that sets Némirovsky apart, despite or perhaps because of her flaws: as a writer, she is attachant. We read and treasure her — we are attached to her — because, at her best, she brilliantly conveys the entangled state of our ties with others and with our own selves.
...[a] measured, compelling new book ... Rather than bluntly judge, Ms. Suleiman makes us see Némirovsky as a gifted woman situated in a particular historical epoch, carefully analyzing her writings as a product of those times, and clarifying, without excusing, Némirovsky’s most discomforting passages ... There is no denying that Némirovsky closed her eyes to the hateful articles that ran alongside her stories in Nazi-leaning publications. At the same time, Ms. Suleiman points out, as a writer desperate to support her family, as time went on these were the only outlets available that still allowed her, going against rules banning Jewish authors, to nonetheless write for them under a pseudonym.
...[an] absorbing study. Stimulated by her deep and subtle understanding of the French cultural landscape between the world wars and as stubbornly determined as a detective, she applied herself, through a close reading of Némirovsky’s work, to examining the experience of this Jewish novelist, Russian-born but French-speaking, on the eve of World War II. She worked relentlessly to disentangle the contradictory, often revised memories that blurred the details of this drama ... Suleiman’s exceptional understanding of both the work and the time led her to echo Primo Levi’s refusal to pass peremptory judgment on people who find themselves in exceptionally difficult situations: 'We should beware of the error of judging eras and places according to the prevailing standards of the here and now.'”