It’s not a sweet story, but Irène’s creation lives on at Royston’s Picture Palace

Suite Francaise

Suite Francaise - Credit: Archant

The origins of wartime drama Suite Francaise are probably being worked up by some bright spark for the big screen treatment, because that story is at least as dramatic as anything portrayed in the respectful movie version of the worldwide bestseller.

The slim book which has sold millions around the world is all that survives of a planned sequence of five novels by French writer Irène Némirovsky.

But in July 1942, having just completed the first two of the series, she was arrested as a Jew and later died in Auschwitz.

The notebook containing the handwritten draft of both books, part of a project which aimed to portray life in France throughout the Second World War, was preserved by her daughters but nobody read them until 1998.

Published in a single volume entitled Suite Française in 2004, the two disparate stories tell what happened when the Nazi forces invaded, and how life carried on in the suburbs under occupation.

The next three instalments were intended to continue that history, covering the growing Resistance movement, liberation and peace – but at the time of her arrest Némirovsky could only mull over the possibilities of what the future might hold, and never lived to see it happen.

The story she did tell is war for the most part without the bangs and blood, looking instead at how the conflict affects ordinary people, and offers a series of plum roles for women actors.

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Step forward Michelle Williams, Kristin Scott Thomas and Margot Robbie, among others, to bring the story to life.

There are screenings at Royston’s Picture Palace at 7.30pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday, and you can book tickets online at

The first of the summer’s blockbusters sweeps all before it as the biggest new release of the week.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron reunites the massed ranks of superheroes including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Captain America (Chris Evans) to tackle the threat to mankind posed by the rogue peacekeeping robot invented by Iron Man’s alter-ego Tony Stark, who despite being a brilliant engineer apparently forgot to fit his latest brainwave with an off switch.

Stars galore, special effects by the bucket – Joss Wheedon’s latest crash bang wallop adventure sets things up for more of the same as the franchise gathers steam.

Also on release is The Good Lie, a Reese Witherspoon vehicle based on a true story about an American woman determined to help a group of refugees from Sudan.