Adieu, Volodya

Simone Signoret, Author Random House (NY) $18.95 (418p) ISBN 978-0-394-54927-9
When she completed this novel in September 1984, the actress may well have known she hadn't long to live. The foreknowledge of her death may account for the sense her novel conveys of striving to get everything said while there was still time. Without being directly autobiographical, this generational saga has the feel of absolute fidelity to ancestral history. Two Jewish families, one from the Ukraine, the other from Poland, both in flight from anti-Semitic pogroms, settle in Paris after the Russian Revolution. Their children carry the weight of the richly detailed, densely factual narrative as their own lives trace the trajectory of European history through the following decades. They come of age during the rise of Nazism, experience the excrescence of French anti-Semitism, the Spanish Civil War and the Popular Front, the fall of France and the German Occupation, deportations, the Resistance and liberation. A multitude of details tends to slow the pace and minor digressions abound; sometimes the telling is flat and reportorial, dutiful rather than necessary. But these are relatively minor flaws in a deep-running, sensitive novel we should be grateful to have. (July 31)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1986
Release date: 07/01/1986
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