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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Suite Francaise

Celebrated in pre-WWII France for her bestselling fiction, the Jewish Russian-born Némirovsky was shipped to Auschwitz in the summer of 1942, months after this long-lost masterwork was composed. Némirovsky, a convert to Catholicism, began a planned five-novel cycle as Nazi forces overran northern France in 1940. (description from

Two things about this cover: Is it me, or does the photo look staged? I would be surprised if this photo really did date from the '40s. The two main figures are especially suspect. Secondly, anyone know what typeface that is? No doubt chosen for its mid-century, Deco-ish feel, but I think it's just awful.


James Morrison said...

The cover's not that great, though I _think_ it's an actual, not a staged photo, if that makes sense. But the book itself is brilliant. The UK/Australian version has the same cover image, but a different font - sadly, it's the swoopy, hand-drawn style sometimes used on bodice-rippers and the like.

kitty said...

I love this. It grabbed my attention immediately. I'd definitely pick it up at B&N, read the flaps and first page.

I don't analyze the designs; I'll leave that to the pros. I'm just an average customer who is attracted to certain designs and/or topics.

This book appeals to me because it appears to be a period piece about WWII Europe and because of the subject.

elizabethharvey said...

I just did a google search on "Suite Francaise" and "cover photo" because I have been trying to figure out that very same question. I asked a friend who had been in advertising and he thought that it looked like the two main figures had been dropped in to an actual photo. Have you found out anything else?

Joseph said...

Elizabeth: No, I never found out anything about this photo. If those people were dropped in, it's a really nice job-- look at their feet, and how they hit the ground. I still think the question is "Was this shot in the 1940s, or was it shot last Tuesday?"

elizabethharvey said...

My friend Natalie, to whom I asked the same question, just came up with the answer. Henri Rogers is the photographer. This links to the photo, the title of which is on the page above it, I believe, and is "World War II. Soldiers mobilized in the Gare de l’Est. Paris, 25 August 1939."

Here is the link:

The internet is amazing.

Joseph said...

wow. thanks for the sleuthing!

Anonymous said...

I personally think this cover is amazing. The photo really conveys departure, separation, 1940s. The lettering in the English edition has been updated to a monotype corsiva-style lettering and I think it looks much better.

Allana said...

Allana Elovson

I found the cover photo riveting, so much so that I bought the book (albeit at a tag sale)despite my mixed feelings about the author,and the quality of her writing, etc. I could not get the two heartbreaking central figures out of my mind, and I, too became obsessed with finding out if the photo was 'real' or not. I will follow on with the leads in the other comments, but it's hard to imagine they we 'dropped in'. Thanks to all of you.