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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What would you risk to do the right thing?
I loved this book. It's set in one of my favourite historical times and it's a very well written and compelling story about everyday French people who are willing to take incredible risks to protect Jews from the Germans.

It's 1942 and Paris is under occupation by the Germans. Lucien Bernard is a French architect who is asked to design a hiding place in a...
Published 19 months ago by Julia Flyte

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An amoral opportunist grows a conscience - 3+
I found "The Paris Architect" to be a good debut novel, largely because of its main plot element--the creation of architecturally-based hiding places for Jews during the Nazi occupation of Paris.

Author Charles Belfoure is a professional architect and knows a good deal about architectural preservation. His story reflects that expertise as it explains in detail...
Published 21 months ago by Blue in Washington


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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What would you risk to do the right thing?, 3 Jan. 2014
By 
Julia Flyte - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Paris Architect (Hardcover)
I loved this book. It's set in one of my favourite historical times and it's a very well written and compelling story about everyday French people who are willing to take incredible risks to protect Jews from the Germans.

It's 1942 and Paris is under occupation by the Germans. Lucien Bernard is a French architect who is asked to design a hiding place in a luxurious apartment, allowing a Jew to remain concealed from the Gestapo. Initially reluctant, knowing the immense danger that the assignment puts him in, Lucien accepts the job after being offered the opportunity for other, legal, work. Gradually over the coming months his attitudes towards Jews change and he will take on more and more risks, despite the constant threats of betrayal from those around him. Paris is full of people who will betray others to save their own skin. Plus his mistress is sleeping with a Gestapo officer, a worker in his office has Gestapo connections and a German colonel is keen to strike up a friendship.

This is a terrific story set in a fascinating time in history. It's very well researched and over the course of the book I learned a great deal about topics such as the French fashion industry during the war, life in occupied France, the French Resistance and of course architecture. (The author is himself an architect who has written books on architectural history). The characters are all interesting as well. Lucien is a complex individual who isn't initially terribly likeable. It moves at a good pace and doesn't allow you to guess where the story will go.

Be aware that there are some graphic torture scenes that had me wincing!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating and quite haunting read., 5 Nov. 2014
Save your own and your family's skin or save the life of someone you don't even know? We all know how we'd like to think we'd behave, but in reality...?

This is an unusual story that provides an excellent depiction of the tension in occupied Paris, particularly of those hiding from the reach of the Gestapo.

Lucien (the architect)is quite an anti-hero, but as the story unfolds you start to learn a lot more about him. I don't want to give too much away, but this is one of the best reads I've had this year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very suspenseful and intriguing story !, 17 Aug. 2014
By 
Bruce Miller "hyper2u" (Louisville, Kentucky and San Diego, California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Paris Architect (Paperback)
This was a very quick story which developed with many twists and turns. The ending was a total surprise and very refreshing as it was the type of ending that one would have wished for. It was an ingenious tale of an architect outwitting a persistent purser who was the local Nazi Gestapo thug. The characterization of players was stereotyped but well done and provided the perfect intrigue for background and development of the story. Of course, I was hoping for a happy ending and was not disappointed. The story was quite visual as the descriptions of the various hiding places that Lucien had designed became a very clear graphic image in my mind. The book would lend itself to an excellent movie ! I picked the book up at Chevalier's book store in Larchmont, CA and briefly read the jacket summary before purchasing. It was well worth the price as it was pure adrenalin entertainment from start to finish. I particularly enjoyed the discussion questions at the end of the story and mulled them over in my mind. I was asking myself the same questions as I read the story even before the discussion questions. The ever present issue is "what would I have done in similar circumstances" ? I highly recommend this book and hope that the reader will get as much enjoyment as I did from the story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars And written in a style of John Jakes or Ken Follett without all that tedious show and no tell beloved by creative writing groups, 2 Sept. 2014
Book of the Year...we get one WW2 book after another, so many written with modern eyes. This one makes you feel you are there. And written in a style of John Jakes or Ken Follett without all that tedious show and no tell beloved by creative writing groups that pulls down pace. I read it in two sittings. And see my reviews. Matron is no push-over.

Lucien is an amoral architect...or rather he's just human. He enjoys life and loves his work. And he wants to live. So when he sees the first Jew gunned down before him, he's shocked, but then, what would you do? He walks on by. Through all this we get snippets of history as if we are there and not have it given to us like in a history book. Paris under Occupation is a ghastly place, for some, better for others. And then our friend is drawn into the first job of hiding a Jew - and this is so creatively done in terms of architecture. And step by step we see his character alter. Then things go horribly wrong before our eyes. It's all handled so deftly. No more spoilers. There are several points of view but it works.

More from this writer please...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not to be missed., 19 Aug. 2014
amazing book, dramatic and tragic. this book shows people at their best and worst which the WW11 brought out. Although it is fiction, many people in Paris and other places acted like the characters in the book. The novel makes you question how you yourself would act in such a situation. Although we would all like to think we would act like Bernard, sadly we are probably fooling ourselves as the novel shows and the majority of us would be unable to see beyond protecting our own family and ourselves. I have read many novels and true stories on WW11 but this one I would highly recommend.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Man proposes, war disposes., 28 Feb. 2014
By 
Sue Kichenside - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Paris Architect (Hardcover)
This is a compelling story set in Nazi-occupied Paris during the Second World War. Lucien is a talented out-of-work architect, a cowardly man of questionable morals although he is, at least, self-aware. The book opens with a wealthy industrialist, Manet, offering Lucien a small project to create a disguised hiding space in an apartment for a Jewish friend.

Lucien is tempted by the proffered fee but too scared to get involved. But then Manet dangles the carrot of designing a new factory for him, contingent on his agreement to the smaller commission. Will Lucien's fear force him to turn down this golden opportunity to prove his architectural chops or will he be enticed into a treacherous world where one false step will mean certain death at the hands of the Gestapo?

That is just the starting point and it's a terrific tale. Unfortunately, the telling of it leaves a lot to be desired. Clunky exposition, unnatural-sounding dialogue and heavy-handed characterisation all conspire to turn this five star story into a three star read. That averages out at 4*. A shame, as this could have been absolutely brilliant. It will be interesting to see how Charles Belfoure follows his promising debut.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Paris Under Nazi Occupation, 7 Aug. 2014
By 
Susie B - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Paris Architect (Paperback)
No Spoilers.

In Paris in 1942, during the Nazi occupation, we meet Lucien Bernard, a talented architect struggling to make a living, who is on his way to attend a meeting with wealthy business man, Auguste Manet. Monsieur Manet's engineering works has been requisitioned by the Germans in order to manufacture weapons for their armed forces, and to outward appearances Manet may appear to be collaborating with the enemy, but Monsieur Manet has a very dangerous sideline, and that is helping Jews to escape right from under the noses of the Gestapo. Assisted by French informers, the Gestapo are becoming more adept at finding Jews trying to escape deportation, and Manet realizes that in order to create more ingenious hiding places, he will need the help of a very good architect. To enlist Lucien's support, Manet offers him a very large sum of money and adds the tempting prospect of employing Lucien to design a modern new factory for him. Knowing that anyone caught helping Jews will be tortured and murdered by the Gestapo, Lucien is initially horrified at the prospect of becoming involved with Manet's scheme and, having been brought up by an anti-Semitic father, he is extremely reluctant to risk his own life for Jewish people he doesn't even know.

However, swayed by the large fee offered for his help, tempted by the chance to design Manet's new factory, and very keen to use his architect's knowledge to outsmart the Nazis, Lucien agrees to become part of Manet's team. And then gradually his reasons for helping Manet become less to do with his own welfare and more to do with the plight of the persecuted Jews, which results in him putting himself in even greater danger. But the danger does not end there - unknown to Lucien, his mistress, fashion designer Adele, is involved with a Gestapo officer; Lucien's new assistant, the sharp-eyed and ambitious Alain, becomes suspicious of Lucien's activities and starts to spy on him; and then Adele's Gestapo officer discovers one of Lucien's ingenious hiding places and makes it his mission to find the creator. What does Lucien do? Does he continue to help Monsieur Manet or does his concern for his own welfare outweigh his newly-found morals? Obviously I have to leave that for prospective readers to discover for themselves. (No spoilers - most of the information I have revealed in this review appears early on in the novel and also on the Amazon page - and there is a lot more to be uncovered by readers).

Charles Belfoure, who is an architect by profession, and inspired by the 'priest holes' created for Catholic priests in Elizabethan England, has melded interesting architectural details into his novel of intrigue and suspense. The author was also careful to explain the peril that his protagonist was putting himself in, for Lucien was not only in danger of being discovered by the Gestapo, he was also in danger of being denounced by French collaborators - and then, of course, there was the Resistance, who would have thought that Lucien, by agreeing to design a new factory for the Germans, was himself in collaboration with the Nazis. So, there were several layers of conflict for Lucien to cope with and a lot for the reader to think about and absorb, and I found this to be one of those stories that makes the reader wonder how they would have approached Lucien's dilemmas, and also how they would have faced the predicaments that many of the characters found themselves in. Although I have to say that I did not find Lucien initially a very likeable character, he does improve on acquaintance, and I found this portrait of Paris under the Occupation an interesting, informative and gripping read.

4 Stars.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An amoral opportunist grows a conscience - 3+, 18 Oct. 2013
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
I found "The Paris Architect" to be a good debut novel, largely because of its main plot element--the creation of architecturally-based hiding places for Jews during the Nazi occupation of Paris.

Author Charles Belfoure is a professional architect and knows a good deal about architectural preservation. His story reflects that expertise as it explains in detail how historic French buildings could be (probably were) modified to shelter people from the Germans. Equally strong and credible is Belfoure's exploration of French anti-Semitism and reaction to the stress of foreign occupation (circa 1942). It all makes for a good platform to spin out the saga of one talented but struggling French architect--Lucien Bernard--who is pulled into the sheltering of refugees from pursuing Gestapo agents and their French allies. Bernard's motivation for this dangerous political game begins as nothing more than economic necessity, but soon evolves into enjoyment of the professional challenge. He is initially blind to its moral or humanitarian elements. He is, in fact, also soon to be working on the designs for Nazi-ordered war factories being constructed in France. He sees no moral contradiction in this collaboration.

Where this novel has some weakness is around the protagonist's change of motivation and the appearance of a moral compass. He becomes far more than an accomplice in the Jewish rescue effort after a point of crisis in the story. I think that this conversion would have been easier to accept if his character had been a bit stronger from the beginning. It's a little hard to accept the reversal of feeling from someone who has previously been presented as the ultimate opportunist and self-justifier. Some readers might also find the book's conclusion hard to swallow, as it veers strongly off in the direction of pulp historic fiction (in my opinion, at least).

In any event, "The Paris Architect" has its strengths and provides some interesting moments, particularly in its evoking of the time and place.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb reading!, 27 Aug. 2014
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This review is from: Paris Architect (Paperback)
Love it, love it, love it!
It has everything I enjoy reading about - wonderful descriptions of Paris and it's architecture, history surrounding WW2, but not too heavy going.
I won't give anything away, but I think that there could be a follow up to this, which I will buy without hesitation!
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5.0 out of 5 stars As good as the reviews said, 20 April 2014
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Reviewed as on of the best books read in 2013 in the Guardian, it lived up to all my expectations.
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The Paris Architect
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure (Hardcover - 25 Oct. 2013)
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