"THE PARIS ARCHITECT," by Charles Belfoure, Sourcebook Landmark, $25.99, 384 pages (f)
Lucien Bernard will be the first to say he isn't a hero; all he wants is to make his mark on history as a famous architect. And survive the German occupation, of course.
"The Paris Architect" by Charles Belfoure, set in Paris during World War II, is a fictional story based on one of the most tumultuous periods in world history. Lucien has no love for the Jews, but when someone offers him a large sum of money to design a hiding place for a Jew, plus a commission for a project that could define his architectural career, Lucien reluctantly agrees. Before long, though, Lucien starts to enjoy playing the part of the hero, not to mention the challenge of outwitting the Gestapo right under their noses.
True to the time period it is set in, "The Paris Architect" is full of stories of courage and sacrifice, as well as stories of the horrors of humanity. Acts of violence are committed in an almost casual manner, and several murders and torture scenes are described. Furthermore, the book also has profanity, infidelity and several sex scenes.
Belfoure is an architect by profession, and his expertise shows in Lucien's work, whether in the ingenious designs to hide Jews in plain sight or in the modern designs of the factory being built to aid the war effort.
By combining his architectural background with his knowledge of Parisian culture and history, Belfoure tells an intriguing story about the people who risked their lives to save individuals who often had nothing to give in return except their gratitude.
Rich with cultural details, this book also brings 1940s Paris to life, giving readers insights into the inner turmoil Parisians faced as their country slowly slipped from their grasp.
When Angela Carter isn't absorbed in words, she enjoys going on walks and playing the piano. She blogs at palydudeman.blogspot.com.