This is a montage of stories, something I wasn't expecting when I first started this book. Many characters in an assortment of situations. Readers get a front row seat to what happens when the victor during a war descends upon a country to claim its spoils. Némirovsky is excellent at creating the tension and chaos that consumes everyone as they try to escape Paris and the Nazi's take over.
The most interesting parts are when average French citizens struggle to maintain their distrust and hatred of the Germans while still finding them irresistibly attractive in many ways.
Unfortunately we don't get many glimpses of these average French citizens. Those refugees we are privy to are the least likable and most despicable. However you cannot help but pity these individuals who insist on taking their worldly treasures with them as they join the mass exodus. Who cares about art, makeup and wine glasses when your life is in danger - apparently quite a few people. Her writing speaks very clearly about her feelings around the upper classes and Nazi collaborators.
I read the book quickly as it flows well. I suppose my main complaint is that the story was really shallow. You get a taste of what a great book this could be. But then again perhaps I am not being fair since this was a manuscript that was unfinished. Some polishing and editing would have certainly happened had she not been imprisoned.
Overall the best part of the book is the first Appendix where we follow Némirovsky's thought process and notes on the novel. I loved this look inside of her writer's brain.