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Review: The misunderstanding

February 4, 2013

The misunderstanding” / by Irene Nemirovsky  (Chatto & Windus, 2012)

reviewed by Tamara Jones

The title of this new book caught my eye – if anything resonates with me lately, it is the wide possibility for misunderstandings when communicating, especially with texting. So when I read it was first published in France in 1926, I wanted to know if male/female communication fared any better nearly a century ago.

I will not spoil the ending for anyone who would like to read it [there is also a hint in the title], but the parallels are very interesting, and it would seem communication between the genders is as fraught with difficulty now as it was then. But we do have other books in our non-fiction section which may help anyone experiencing cross-gender miscommunication.

Back to the book: charmingly translated from French by Robinson College Fellow Sandra Smith, the language is beautiful, and it’s fun to ponder how much is owed to Nemirovsky, and which portion to Smith, or indeed to the poetic French language.

Iráene Naemirovsky

Iráene Naemirovsky

Sadly, Iráene Nâemirovsky, who wrote several novels and short stories, perished in Auschwitz in 1942.  Born in 1903, she was the daughter of a successful Jewish banker, who fled with her family from Russia to Paris in 1918.


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