The book, of course, ends with Nemirovsky standing at the brink of deportation to Auschwitz. In some ways, the demise of the brilliant French writer, Nemirovsky, in the holocaust demonstrates one more dimension of the horror of Nazism. As hard as Nemirovsky sometimes seemed to have tried to assimilate, and as privileged as she was at every state of her life, there was simply no escaping Europe's inability to come to terms with difference. Gille's book demonstrates the original appeal of Zionism. Whether you were in Russia or France, whether you were rich or poor, and whether you embraced your religion or ignored its rituals, your continued existence was, in the end, an open question.
Some favorite quotes from the book:
In the spring of 1918, everyone had an opinion, a story to tell, a picture to paint, or a poem to declaim.
Because of the Bolsheviks, I never celebrated my fifteenth birthday.
The opening of the play may have marked the moment of my true rupture with my mother. I had not yet forgiven her for her terrible reaction to my announcement that I was pregnant two years earlier, when she had begged me, on her knees, to have an abortion.
Have I changed so much, once deliciously and exotically Slavic, now an unrecognizable Yid?