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Conversation with Sandra Smith, translator of Suite Française

Published on 18/12/16

A few weeks ago I was given the incredible opportunity to have a Skype conversation with Sandra Smith, translator of Suite Française by Irene Némirovsky.

This novel is not only a definite favourite of mine, but is also the focus of my French Extended Essay. It was incredible to speak with Sandra about Némirovsky and her immense talent as an author. 

She explained in such amazing detail Némirovsky’s experiences and life; information which at times was passed on from Némirovsky’s daughter, Denise Epstein, who Sandra got to know during her work with Suite Française.

To hear about the opinions and experiences of Némirovsky’s daughter was incredible; her opinions on her mother’s work provided me with a fascinating and very real insight into the reasons behind Némirovsky’s literary choices.

Sandra further explained to me her discussions she had with Saul Dibb, director of the film of Suite Française, and his explanation for the film’s contrasting ending to that of the novel.

The knowledge and understanding I received from Sandra was invaluable. Her insight not only helped my EE, but also allowed me to further my understanding of the incredible and admirable woman that is Némirovsky, whose breath-taking personal strength and talent as a writer genuinely inspires and teaches me so much; about the struggles of the past and about the characteristics, both good and bad, possessed by each and every one of us.

Francesca Boyce Cam