The Wine of Solitude

by Irène Némirovsky, translated by Sandra Smith

Available from Random House

Introspective and poignant, The Wine of Solitude is the most autobiographical of all of the novels from the celebrated author of Suite Française.
 
Beginning in a fictionalized Kiev, The Wine of Solitude follows the Karol family through the Great War and the Russian Revolution, as the young Hélène grows from a dreamy, unhappy child into a strongwilled young woman. From the hot Kiev summers to the cruel winters of St Petersburg and eventually to springtime in Paris, the would-be writer Hélène blossoms, despite her mother’s neglect, into a clear-eyed observer of the life around her. Here is a powerful tale of disillusionment — the story of an upbringing that produces a young woman as hard as a diamond, prepared to wreak a shattering revenge on her mother.

Irène Némirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903 into a wealthy banking family and immigrated to France during the Russian Revolution. After attending the Sorbonne in Paris, she began to write and swiftly achieved success with David Golder, which was followed by more than a dozen other books. Throughout her lifetime she published widely in French newspapers and literary journals. She died in Auschwitz in 1942. More than sixty years later, Suite Française was published posthumously for the first time in 2006.