Fire in the Blood by Irène Némirovsky

fire in the blood

Fire in the blood by Irène Némirovsky

French fiction

Original title – Chaleur du sang

Translator – Sandra Smith

Source – Library

I think of myself… as a troubadour, a village storyteller, the guy in the shadows of the campfire.

Louis L’Amour Silvio is our troubadour here .

Another of my books read for Women in Translation month was a return visit too Irène Némirovsky ,whom I have review before her book Le bal and pre blogging had read Suite française this book which like Suite française is set in the same village as that book ,but years before .This book was discovered and first published in France in 2007 after the two parts that had been given to two separate people during the war by Irene were put together after her biographers discovered the parts .I did a bio on Le Bal but a brief recount  Irène Némirovsky was born in Kiev ,her family fled russia in 1918 first settling in Finland ,then france she started writing in the twenties and had a number of books in  print before the war ,her book written join the war were banned ,she died in Auschwitz in 1942 ,this book was written in 1941 .

“Why do people call you Silvio ” asked Colette .

“A beautiful women who was once in love with me thought I looked like a Gondolier “, I replied .”That was over twenty years ago and ,at the time I had black hair and a handlebar moustache .She changed my name from Sylvestre to Silvio .

How Silvio became Silvio

Fire in the blood is an interesting find really as it saw  Irène Némirovsky setting a second book in the village of  Issy L’Eveque the same as in  Suite fancaise,this is a country tale of morals thou and set before the earlier book .We meet Silvio his is old and we learn of his life in this book and his family his cousins and their kids .He has returned to his home village and we see him life the veil on the village secrets ,we hear of a middle-aged couple cousins of Silvio  and what is below the surface of their marriage  ,the death of a young man whom just married and drowned ,the daughter  Colette of the middle-aged couple whom is due to marry .This is told like an old man would tell it  in a series of small tales of the village  something Némirovsky really pulls of well here  .But he scraps the surface of the village that from the outside appears a peaceful place to reveal a simmering world of loose morals and double standards .

Jean Dorin was buried the day before yesterday.It was a very long service on a cold and rainy afternoon.The mill is up for sale .Colette is keeping only the land ;her father will look after it and she will go home to live with her parents

Through out the books are little piece like this of village news .

Now those of you that have followed this blog for a good while know I have a huge soft spot for books set in small villages ,because like Miss Marple says a small village is just reflects the wide world the closer you look at it .Know fire in the blood in some ways  remind me of Christie in that way she took small villages and like putting a pan on water on the heat  leaving  it long enough it starts boiling and that is what happens here the village is simmering away  .Ok there is no crime but we have everything else people dying ,affairs and secrets .You could question would Némirovsky maybe have tied a few loose ends and overall tighten the book ,I don’t know it isn’t one of those book published posthumously that feels like it should stayed were it was no it feels nearly complete just a final run through and edit ,would raise this to be her best book in my opinion .I need to read the rest of her books ,I said this after I read Le bal and it took me four years to get to this one ,Have you read her books ?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hastanton
    Aug 21, 2014 @ 16:30:53

    I have read Suite Francaise which I loved and also another one called Jezabel . I read it in Fr so don’t know what the translation is like . I enjoyed it Altho it was a little melodramatic by today’s standards .


  2. Claire 'Word by Word'
    Aug 21, 2014 @ 18:21:32

    I really enjoyed this novella and ironically I read it immediately after Edith Wharton’s winter read, Ethan Frome. They make a great pair, two similar situations but very different responses, which is interesting given the geography, culture and social expectations of the two different societies they are written and for. I really recommend Ethan From if you haven’t already read it, to go with this, a quick read too.


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August 2014


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