Published in 2004, Irène Némirovsky’s Suite française is a historical novel set during the French debacle and the German Occupation of France (1940–42). Scholars have studied it in relation to other French novels that touch upon similar issues; however, little attention has been given to its literary sources and to Némirovsky’s creative process. This article fills this gap by presenting an analysis of the relation between Suite française and Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It will also show the “creative influence” of the Russian master on Némirovsky, addressing how Suite française engages creatively with War and Peace and its reception. Building on archival material and close textual analysis, the article unravels the complex relation between the two novels by exploring questions of structure, the connections between history and fiction, and the use of music as a literary tool.

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