Sunday, July 25, 2021

Suspended Sentences (Three Novellas) by Patrick Modiano


Quite frankly, I'd never heard of French writer, Patrick Modiano, until he won the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature. Over the years, I've had this desire/fantasy to read at least one book written by every Nobel Prize for Literature winner... But I haven't actually made an action plan to execute this particular reading goal. But alas, I digress!

So during the week in which Bastille Day fell (July 14th) this year, I decided to listen to the unabridged audio version of Suspended Sentences (Three Novellas) by Patrick Modiano and narrated by Arthur Morey, Sean Runnette, and Bronson Pinchot. Listening time for Suspended Sentences (Three Novellas) by Patrick Modiano is 6 hours, 37 minutes.

I thought Suspended Sentences (Three Novellas) by Patrick Modiano was a good introduction to his work. Each novella in this collection seems almost autobiographical in nature, deals with the main character looking back over their life at a specific time period/set of events that took place, and some sort of mystery/mysterious element/event as well. These novellas seem to primarily focus on one's memories of the past. 

I enjoyed Suspended Sentences (Three Novellas) by Patrick Modiano overall, but I am not sure I'll gravitate towards another one of Modiano's novels in the future.

Below is the summary for Suspended Sentences (Three Novellas) by Patrick Modiano from Audible:
In this essential trilogy of novellas by the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, French author Patrick Modiano reaches back in time, opening the corridors of memory and exploring the mysteries to be encountered there. Each novella in the volume - Afterimage, Suspended Sentences, and Flowers of Ruin - represents a sterling example of the author's originality and appeal, while Mark Polizzotti's superb English-language translations capture not only Modiano's distinctive narrative voice but also the matchless grace and spare beauty of his prose.

Although originally published separately, Modiano's three novellas form a single, compelling whole, haunted by the same gauzy sense of place and characters. Modiano draws on his own experiences, blended with the real or invented stories of others, to present a dreamlike autobiography that is also the biography of a place. Orphaned children, mysterious parents, forgotten friends, enigmatic strangers - all appear in this three-part love song to a Paris that no longer exists.

Shadowed by the dark period of the Nazi Occupation, these novellas reveal Modiano's fascination with the lost, obscure, or mysterious: a young person's confusion over adult behavior; the repercussions of a chance encounter; the search for a missing father; the aftershock of a fatal affair. To listen to Modiano's trilogy is to enter his world of uncertainties and the almost accidental way in which people find their fates.

I am giving Suspended Sentences (Three Novellas) by Patrick Modiano a rating 3 stars out of 5 stars. 

Until my next post, happy reading!!


  1. I read Missing Person by Modiano a few years ago. I believe it is the only work of his that I've read. I liked it even though it was not the easiest of reads.

    1. Good t know that you enjoyed reading one of his novels.

  2. Thank you for Storting my memories

    have now read five novels by Patrick Modiano (born Boulangne-Billancourt, France, 1945). He is a prolific writer and I hope to read more of his work. His The Black Notebook and After the Circus are very good novels focusing on the search for hidden history and for identity. The Occupation Trilogy is a work of a much higher order, a sublimely brilliant almost surreal recreation of what it was like to be a French Jew during the occupation of Paris by the Nazis. I am currently reading a very well done history, Paris at War-1939 to 1944 by Donald Drake, which helps me understand what it was like in Paris during the war years. Many Parisians were convinced the Germans would win, there was a strong element of anti-Jewish feeling, underlying this was a growing resistance as the war went on and the German Occupation began harsher and the prevailing mood was shifting to the idea that the allies could win.

    Modiano was 22 when La Place de l'Ėtiole was published. I found it an incredibly powerful work, deeply evocative of French literature, Proust is clearly a great influence on this work and he is attacked by the Germans and French collaborators as the epitome of "degenerate literature". This work has a strongly hallucinatory quality. Paris became a kind of play pen for the worst of German officers. The French were drawn between self preservation and patriotism. There is strong sexual content in La Place de l'Ėtiole. I read this work last year intending to post on it for Paris in July in 2016 but I was too overwhelmed by the power of this book.

    The Night Watch focuses on a young man working for the French Gestapo and simultaneously informing on the French police to the resistance. We see him torn apart by the forces working on him

    Ring Road focuses on a young man looking in war time Paris for his father, a French Jew missing for ten years. He finds him amidst spies, anti-Semites, and prostitutes.

    Prostitutes play a big part in the Occupation Trilogy, a metaphor for how Paris survived. There are lots of wonderful literary references.

    The Occupation Trilogy is, to me, must Reading. Modiano carries on the great tradition of French literature.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and leaving me a comment. I will have to check out the occupation trilogy by Modiano.