How far would you go to help a stranger? What would you risk? Would you trade your life for another s in the name of what is right? Belfoure explores these questions and others in this debut novel set in Paris during the Nazi occupation. Lucien Bernard who, like the book s author, is an architect is offered a large sum of money to outsmart the Gestapo by devising unique hiding places for Jews, though he knows that anyone caught helping them will be tortured and killed by the Germans. Danger is everywhere: Lucien s mistress, Adele, a successful fashion designer, has an affair with a Gestapo colonel. Lucien's new assistant will betray him in a heartbeat. Offered a juicy German factory commission that involves working with a Nazi officer who admires architecture and art, Lucien s web weaves more complexly. And when he falls in love with Adele s assistant, rescues a child, and contacts some of the individuals he s saved, the stakes grow higher and Lucien s thoughts turn from money to vengeance. Seamlessly integrated architectural details add to the excitement. Belfoure s characters are well-rounded and intricate. Heart, reluctant heroism, and art blend together in this spine-chilling page-turner. --Publisher Weekly 10.06.13
I read so many books this year that I loved Jeremy Adelman's biography of Albert O Hirschman, Worldly Philosopher (Princeton University Press), David Epstein's The Sports Gene (Yellow Jersey), and Jonathan Dee's magnificent A Thousand Pardons (Corsair) but my favourite was a novel I picked up entirely randomly, in an airport bookstore: The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (Sourcebooks Landmark). It is a beautiful and elegant account of an ordinary man's unexpected and reluctant descent into heroism during the second world war. I have no idea who Belfoure is, but he needs to write another book, now! --Malcolm Gladwell, The Guardian 25.11.13
A thrilling debut novel of World War II Paris, from an author who's been called "an up and coming Ken Follett." (Booklist)
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.