Suite Françaiseby Irene Nemirovsky was one of the most beautiful books I've read in a long time. Set in occupied France in the summers of 1940 and 1941, it's the story of many different French and a few Germans who are caught up in the war. Some act despicably, some heroically, and most are middling.
But what makes the book so amazing is the background of the author, which I won't detail here, although it is certainly worth detailing. I deliberately chose to not find out very much about the author before reading it; instead, I just followed the book as it was printed with the short translator's note first, then the story, then correspondence and notes relating to Nemirovsky, and finally the forward to the French publication of the novel. I think this was the perfect order for the story and background information to be presented.