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The Mirador (eBook)
A New York Review Books Original
Élisabeth Gille was only five when the Gestapo arrested her mother, and she grew up remembering next to nothing of her. Her mother was a figure, a name, Irène Némirovsky, a once popular novelist, a Russian émigré from an immensely rich family, a Jew who didn’t consider herself one and who even contributed to collaborationist periodicals, and a woman who died in Auschwitz because she was a Jew. To her daughter she was a tragic enigma and a stranger.
It was to come to terms with that stranger that Gille wrote, in The Mirador, her mother’s memoirs. The first part of the book, dated 1929, the year David Golder made Némirovsky famous, takes us back to her difficult childhood in Kiev and St. Petersburg. Her father is doting, her mother a beautiful monster, while Irene herself is bookish and self-absorbed. There are pogroms and riots, parties and excursions, then revolution, from which the family flees to France, a country of “moderation, freedom, and generosity,” where at last she is happy.
Some thirteen years later Irène picks up her pen again. Everything has changed. Abandoned by friends and colleagues, she lives in the countryside and waits for the knock on the door. Written a decade before the publication of Suite Française made Irène Némirovsky famous once more (something Gille did not live to see), The Mirador is a haunted and a haunting book, an unflinching reckoning with the tragic past, and a triumph not only of the imagination but of love.
About the Author
Élisabeth Gille (1937–1996) was born in Paris, the daughter of Michel Epstein, a banker, and of the novelist Irène Némirovsky. In 1942, both parents were deported to Auschwitz, where they died, but Gille and her older sister, Denise, lived out the duration of World War II in hiding. Gille worked for many years as an editor and translator, especially of science fiction,
Praise for The Mirador…
"Few of us will forget the the experience of discovering Irène Némirovsky's powerful Suite Française and the equally powerful and disturbing details of her life. Now we can rediscover Némirovsky through this novel, a fictionalized biography written by her daughter and published [in French] in 1992, where it helped precipitate a reexamination of this remarkable author's work. Gille was just a few years old when her mother, a Russian émigré much celebrated in France, was rounded up and sent to Auschwitz, where she died within months. Through research and, more significantly, imagination, she has re-created her mother's life....Gille writes in a style at once lyric and focused, periodically introducing her alter ego's dispassionate reflections as an adult. As Gille concludes, Némirovsky "will remain thirty-nine for all eternity," and that painful realization resonates throughout this beautiful book." -- Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal