le bal by Irene nemirovosky



Notes – 

These two short novellas le bal and snow in autumn where wrote in 1930 and 1931 .Irene Neimovosky was born in Kiev ,here family fled russia due to the revolution they settle in france where Irene wrote til the german invasion ,she was Jewish and died in Auschwitz in 1942 ,spent a number of years in obscurity til 2005 and suite Francaise came out ,this vol was published by vintage in 2007 ,Persephone has just published another collection of her short stories . 

The book – 

the two stories in the book are both about 50 pages long ,the first le bal follows a mother and daughter relationship the Kampf  ,the mother is a women who has made good ,but become a little stuck up along the way ,the daughter grew up use to money and his the perks of the money like an english governess  and finds her mother a little annoying at times  ,her mother is organizing a huge ball to finally announce their arrival in the upper echelon of paris society ,she tells her daughter Antoinette who is 14 years old  she can’t come to the ball . leading to a very cruel twist ! 

Madame Kampf said nothing about the previous nights argument to Antoinette ,but all through lunch she let her daughter know she was in a bad mood by barking out the kind of curt reprimands at which she excelled when she was angry . 


the second story follow a family as they escape the revolution in russia going via Odessa they are followed by the devoted servant Tatiana  the family Karine arrive in Paris but not everyone finds it so easy to adjust to Parisan life as the family adjusts to a new society and a drop in class .this story is shorter than the first but does seem like in invoke Irene’s own life . 

How could they all live like this shut up in these dark houses? when would the snow come ? 

Tatiana lamenting the small apartment in paris . 

My view –  

I read suite francaise ,liked but didn’t love it ,but these two stores were amazing she had a real talent as a shorter story writer ,le bal you were thrown in to the world of the Kampf’s and within a few pages could immediately visualise this family ,snow in autumn seemed as thou it was written from her own personnel experiences ,these are worthy to sit next to Chekhov and Maupassant ,the translation is great from Sandra Smith from the original french ,i will know look forward to the new collection on Persephone books . 

Links – 

the definitive Irene Nemirovky site

May 2010


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