The Paris Architect
By Charles Belfoure
Lucien Bernard is a struggling architect. Germany occupies France, and work was scarce. Then one day Bernard is offered a job – he is to create a hiding place for a Jew. In return, not only will he earn a handsome some of money but he’ll also be granted a commission to build a factory. Bernard debates the offer – holding no affinity for Jews but intrigued by the money, the idea of outwitting the Nazis, and the promise of a job that could make him famous some day, so he accepts.
That decision will not only change his future, but alter his way of thinking in a manner he never thought possible.
Review/Recommendation: Another WWII-ear historical fiction novel, another one that I enjoyed. Actually, I devoured this one.
Loved the story. I wouldn’t call it fast-paced, but it was definitely a page-turner. The story was unique, at least as far as others that I’ve read in the genre. While no WWII story is a happy one, I was rooting for the protagonist and for the people hidden away. Every life saved, every Nazi eluded, was a happy moment.
In terms of characters, some were likable, some weren’t. But the strength was seeing the inner turmoil in the characters as they struggled in unimaginable situations. Would you choose to save a life – of a friend, of a stranger – at the risk of your own? At the risk of your family’s? Would you help the Nazis to support your family and to hope for a better future for your country? The characters and their choices were then further subject to judgement by those around them – family, friends, peers – making it even harder…
I really enjoyed seeing the changes in Bernard’s life – how his manner of thinking changed, and his opinions changed over time. He grew up with prejudices learned from his family, and then with the fear and prejudices of his wife. But following how he reasoned with himself and the shift in his mindset was pretty awesome. Even better? When he found trusted friends in the most unexpected of places.
In my opinion, The Paris Architect is definitely worth a read, especially if you enjoy historical fiction. Have you read it? What did you think?