For those readers who are familiar with Irène Némirovsky’s best-selling novel “Suite Francaise,” published in 2004 from an unfinished manuscript, the author of “The Mirador” is Ms. Nemirovsky’s youngest daughter, Elisabeth Gille. Elisabeth was 5 years old when her mother was sent to Auschwitz, where she died.
“Mirador” is the imagined autobiography of Irène Némirovsky. The story, told in first person by “Irene,” is divided into two parts: The first part is the story of a child of privilege in Kiev; the second part tells of a famous novelist who has fled to rural France. The novel is filled with details from the author’s extensive research about her mother’s life by reading her published and unpublished books, and confirming the information through documents such as letters, notes and diaries and interviews of people who remembered her mother – including Elisabeth’s, older sister, Denise.
Elizabeth Gille was a well-respected editor and translator in France until her death in 1996. She wrote “The Mirador,” her first book, in 1991, when she was in her early 50s. Twenty years later, in 2011, Marina Harss translated it into English.
This is an effective translation of a fascinating novel, as Ms. Gille tries to understand the life of a mother she never really knew except through her writings.
It is also a study of the attitudes and beliefs leading to the Holocaust and is a psychological portrait of World War II.