Synopsis of The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure :
"In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money – and maybe get him killed. But if he's clever enough, he'll avoid any trouble. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space so invisible that even the most determined German officer won't find it. He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can't resist.
But when one of his hiding spaces fails horribly, and the problem of where to hide a Jew becomes terribly personal, Lucien can no longer ignore what's at stake. The Paris Architect asks us to consider what we owe each other, and just how far we'll go to make things right.
Written by an architect whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every soul hidden and every life saved."
My Thoughts :
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure was an emotional and dangerously thrilling novel. Belfoure places his characters in the most harrowing and frightening situations and allows them to be dynamic and grow. Lucien is certainly not a perfect leading man and is often unlikable in the beginning of the novel. Yet, his heart is touched and he increasingly makes choices that put himself in danger in order to save others. It is heartening to read of his evolution from narcissistic architect to unselfish humanitarian.
Belfoure, an architect himself, understands his subject and writes fascinating details about the ingenious hiding places. He has also crafted a magnificent story which is well plotted and intriguing. He succeeds at building on the fear that his characters live with daily. At times the writing is sophomoric, specifically in the dialogue and the relationship between lovers. However, the overall emotional significance of the story and characters overcome the minor faults of the novel.
I started reading The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure immediately after finishing The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes. The Girl You Left Behind is set during the German Occupation of France during World War I. The Paris Architect is set in Paris during the German Occupation during World War II. Since I am more familiar with World War II history, the sudden switch wasn't too difficult. I was reminded of several other works that help illustrate the psyche of the French people during this period of time, including Suite Francaise and All Our Worldly Goods by Irene Nemirovsky and Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure was published by Sourcebook Landmark and was released yesterday, October 8, 2013.
** I received a complimentary copy of The Paris Architect in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own. **