Fire in the Blood

Nemirovsky, Irene

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Annotated by:
Duffin, Jacalyn
  • Date of entry: Jan-03-2012
  • Last revised: Jan-01-2012


In this tale, told by an aging Silvio, Jean the miller dies mysteriously in the river at his mill leaving his young wife, Colette, and a little boy. Was it suicide or murder – and why?  Colette is the daughter of Helene Coudray, a woman Silvio once loved and still admires deeply, although she married François. They remain good friends.

Silvio is also friendly with Brigitte. She is known to all as the adopted daughter of Helene’s late unmarried sister, Cecile.  Brigitte married a much older landowner who dies, leaving her well off, and free to marry handsome young Marc Ohnet.  But news of the engagement devastates Colette. Suddenly it is clear that her child was Marc’s– and that it was Marc who killed Jean, possibly by accident. Colette’s angry father wants to press charges against Marc for killing his son-in-law. But Brigitte reveals that she is the biological daughter of Helene and Silvio; Marc is to become another son-in-law.

The apparently worthy Helene has deceived both her husband and her old lover, Silvio, by concealing Brigitte’s existence and identity. She also abused the goodwill of her sister who cared for her child. 


Another well crafted tale told by Irène Nemirovsky who probes the timelessness of passion and devotion with great sensitivity to human secrets and desires.

Another novel, newly discovered, among the papers of its gifted author who perished in Auschwitz in 1942.


Translated by Sandra Smith from Chaleur du sang (Paris: Denoel, 2007).


Alfred A. Knopf

Place Published

New York



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