By Irene Nemirovsky
$20.95 (without GST)
THE two novellas here, Le Bal and Snow In Autumn, were first published in French in 1930 and 1931 respectively, and they bear testament to the versatility and elegance of Nemirovsky's craft.
She was a Russian-born Jew and a best-selling author in her time. When the Germans occupied France in 1940, she was prevented from publishing.
Nemirovsky was only 39 when she died in the concentration camp at Auschwitz in 1942.
There has been renewed interest in her works after the posthumous publication, more than 60 years after it was written, of Suite Francaise in 2005 to widespread acclaim.
Le Bal is a keenly observed tale of teenage frustration and vengeance, thrown into sharp relief by the prickly relations between a woman and her daughter.
It is both a chronicle of social manners in 1930s Parisian high society and a clear-eyed look at the point at which a child begins to supersede the parent.
Snow In Autumn, on the other hand, has the feel of an epic novel condensed into 50 pages.
It richly evokes Moscow in revolutionary turmoil circa the late 1910s and Paris as seen through the eyes of a well-to-do Russian family forced to flee the comforts of home.
Taken together, the two stories serve as a most promising introduction to Nemirovsky's writing.
If you like this, read: The Essential Tales Of Chekhov (2000, $26.40 with GST, Books Kinokuniya)
Snow In Autumn has been described as an homage to the Russian master of the short story form.