From the TBR Shelf #46: The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure The Paris Architect (2013) by Charles Belfoure

I had heard good things about this novel when it first came out, but was so crushed by my own TBR pile that I didn't get around to reading it until now. However, my mom was looking for something to read a couple of months ago, and knowing that it was about WWII, I figured she'd enjoy it. I was right.

I have to say, I enjoyed it, too, but not because Belfoure is a brilliant stylist (he isn't), or because it is based on a compelling true story about French people hiding Jews during the Nazi Occupation (it isn't). Rather, I flew through this book because the story offers us a unique angle on life in France at this time (think Suite Francaise). 

Belfoure, an architect, drew upon the persecution of Catholic priests in England during Elizabeth I's reign to shape his story of a wealthy manufacturer hiring an architect (both Christian) to design hiding places for Jews throughout Paris.

For most of the novel, we're in the architect's head, and Belfoure does indeed do a good job of developing Lucien Bernard's slow evolution from casual anti-semite to determined defender of the Jews who are being hunted down, building by building, by the Nazis. These commissions are eextremely risky, and yet Lucien needs the money and relishes the idea of tricking the Nazis by hiding Jews in ingenious places. His successes, though, mean little to him when one of his hiding places fails and two people die.

And while most of the secondary characters are somewhat flat, Lucien's character is interesting throughout, and the novel goes quickly. If you're interested in this time period and architecture, especially, be sure to check this book out.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed this book! I was excited to read it earlier this year but when I got to it, I ended up DNFing it a few chapters in because I just couldn't get past the writing :3 Pity because I'm interested in the period and the architecture.