"Everyone waited for the war to start the way people wait for death: knowing it is inevitable, asking only for a little more time."
I read Nemirovsky's novel Suite Francaise a few years ago and loved it! This novel is also set in France and covers the period from right before World War I in 1911 through the beginning of World War II. It end quite optimistic in 1940 - a bit ironic considering Nemirovsky was killed in Auschwitz before she could finish Suite Francaise.
The story follows Pierre and Agnes, who are disowned by Pierre's grandfather when he decides to marry for love and not marry Simone who he was promised to. Brought up in a rich family, Pierre and his family are forced to make their own lives in the world. He survives the first war only to send his son off to the second war years later. Simone also appears through out the story, and Pierre's decisions have great consequences for him and his family.
I'm not sure why this took me so long to get through. It was beautifully written and brings to live small-town France during a unique time period between the world wars. There is a lot of character development and themes of family, abandonment, war, and community. It also is a great prequel to Suite Francaise - even though the characters and story are completely different.