Contact Me

Follow

Follow on Bloglovin
Powered by Blogger.

Google+ Followers

Follow by Email

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Paris Architect
By Charles Belfoure

Like most gentiles in Nazi-occupied Paris, architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews. So when a wealthy industrialist offers him a large sum of money to devise secret hiding places for Jews, Lucien struggles with the choice of risking his life for a cause he doesn't really believe in. Ultimately he can't resist the challenge and begins designing expertly concealed hiding spaces—behind a painting, within a column, or inside a drainpipe—detecting possibilities invisible to the average eye. But when one of his clever hiding spaces fails horribly and the immense suffering of Jews becomes incredibly personal, he can no longer deny reality.

Written by an expert whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every life the architect tries to save.

Review: The Paris Architect is an engaging historical novel that gives a glimpse into the horrors faced by those living in Nazi occupied Paris. I started this novel expecting something more "literary", in the English lit class sense of the word, but it's really more of a thriller. This is by no means a bad thing, the plot keep me turning the pages rapidly as I needed to know various characters' fates.  Belfoure does a superb job at conveying the fear that permeates Paris during this time, as Jews and others are relentlessly hunted by the Gestapo, acts of basic human compassion can result in death and torture, and neighbor turns on neighbor in order to escape sharing in their gruesome fate. 

While many of the characters are somewhat shallowly drawn, acting as plot devices (the frustrated Gestapo officer, the greedy mistress, the kind elderly Jewish couple) the protagonist Lucien Bernard is an interesting case study of an ordinary person, one who's rather self-interested and cowardly, rising to the occasion in extreme circumstances. He transforms from protagonist to hero almost despite himself. Bernard is also useful for giving a clear picture of the various serious dilemmas that any citizen of Paris faced in that time: the need to make a living vs. not wanting to collaborate with the German oppressors;  wanting to hide Jews to save lives vs. the possibility of your family and neighbors being killed if you are discovered. 

A highlight of the novel are the various hiding places Bernard designs. Each space has their own problems and advantages, and the people who come to occupy these spaces meet different fates. All the while the net closes on Bernard and his employer, surrounded by Gestapo informants, he cannot afford to make any mistakes. The action draws to a satisfying if, in my opinion, too neat conclusion. All in all, The Paris Architect is a good read, especially for those interested in Paris life under the Vichy government. 

4 Stars







1 comments:

turnthepagereviews.com said...

I have this waiting on my e-reader and I can't wait to read it-great review!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: The Paris Architect


The Paris Architect
By Charles Belfoure

Like most gentiles in Nazi-occupied Paris, architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews. So when a wealthy industrialist offers him a large sum of money to devise secret hiding places for Jews, Lucien struggles with the choice of risking his life for a cause he doesn't really believe in. Ultimately he can't resist the challenge and begins designing expertly concealed hiding spaces—behind a painting, within a column, or inside a drainpipe—detecting possibilities invisible to the average eye. But when one of his clever hiding spaces fails horribly and the immense suffering of Jews becomes incredibly personal, he can no longer deny reality.

Written by an expert whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every life the architect tries to save.

Review: The Paris Architect is an engaging historical novel that gives a glimpse into the horrors faced by those living in Nazi occupied Paris. I started this novel expecting something more "literary", in the English lit class sense of the word, but it's really more of a thriller. This is by no means a bad thing, the plot keep me turning the pages rapidly as I needed to know various characters' fates.  Belfoure does a superb job at conveying the fear that permeates Paris during this time, as Jews and others are relentlessly hunted by the Gestapo, acts of basic human compassion can result in death and torture, and neighbor turns on neighbor in order to escape sharing in their gruesome fate. 

While many of the characters are somewhat shallowly drawn, acting as plot devices (the frustrated Gestapo officer, the greedy mistress, the kind elderly Jewish couple) the protagonist Lucien Bernard is an interesting case study of an ordinary person, one who's rather self-interested and cowardly, rising to the occasion in extreme circumstances. He transforms from protagonist to hero almost despite himself. Bernard is also useful for giving a clear picture of the various serious dilemmas that any citizen of Paris faced in that time: the need to make a living vs. not wanting to collaborate with the German oppressors;  wanting to hide Jews to save lives vs. the possibility of your family and neighbors being killed if you are discovered. 

A highlight of the novel are the various hiding places Bernard designs. Each space has their own problems and advantages, and the people who come to occupy these spaces meet different fates. All the while the net closes on Bernard and his employer, surrounded by Gestapo informants, he cannot afford to make any mistakes. The action draws to a satisfying if, in my opinion, too neat conclusion. All in all, The Paris Architect is a good read, especially for those interested in Paris life under the Vichy government. 

4 Stars







1 comment:

  1. I have this waiting on my e-reader and I can't wait to read it-great review!

    ReplyDelete

Thank you, comments are appreciated :)