Le Bal is a penetrating and incisive book set in early twentieth century France. At its heart is the tension between mother and daughter. The nouveau-riche Kampfs, desperate to become members of the social elite, decide to throw a ball to launch themselves into high society. For selfish reasons Mrs. Kampf forbids her teenage daughter, Antoinette, to attend the ball and banishes her to the laundry room. In an unpremeditated fury of revolt and despair, Antoinette takes a swift and horrible revenge. A cruel, funny and tender examination of class differences, Le Bal describes the torments of childhood with rare accuracy.
Also included in this volume is Snow in Autumn, in which Némirovsky pays homage to Chekov and chronicles the life of a devoted servant following her masters as they flee Revolutionary Moscow and emigrate to a life of hardship in Paris.
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Madame Kampf walked into the study and slammed the door behind her with such force that a gust of air made the crystal beads on the chandelier jingle with the pure, light sound of small bells. But Antoinette didn’t stop reading; she was bent so far forward over her desk that her hair brushed the pages of her...
1. “Ever since Antoinette was a girl she’d been afraid of her parents.” Why is Rosine Kampf so cruel to her daughter?
2. Several great authors have written masterpieces about parties, including Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, and James Joyce. What is the temptation of writing about a major social...
—The Guardian (UK)