The Paris Architect- A Novel by Charles Belfoure - 2013 - 371 Pages
This is part of my participation in Paris in July 2021
There are lots of works of fiction devoted to Paris under German rule during World War Two. The Paris Architect by Charles Belfourne, a professional architect, is a very exciting and insightful book about a Paris architect given Commission to create hiding places for Jews, inside homes of Rich Parisians during the war.
Like most Parisians Lucien Bernard does not personally care what happens to French Jews. His work is low so he is pleased when a wealthy Frenchman offers him a job. He is even more shocked when he offers him a huge sum, enough to keep him in blackmarket goods for months, to design a compartment in a mansion to hide a Jew. Lucien needs the money but he knows if the Gestapo learns of this he will be executed. He has seen Jewish people disappearing and shot in the street. He accepts the job but says just this one, no more as very risky. Soon he is doing more jobs. He enjoys designing hiding places The Nazis cannot find. Plus he is getting a lot of money. He begins to design factories for The Germans, telling himself once the war is over the Frence can use them.
Lucien is married but is having an affair with a famous fashion designer who is also Sleeping with a high ranking Gestapo Officer. Of course we think of Coco Chanel. He develops a bond with a German architect and eventually as he opens up the plight of the Jews and adapts a 12 year old orphan.
There are lots of exciting subplots, terrifying searches by the Gestapo and another romance. The ending was emotionally satisfying.
I enjoyed this book. It gets mixed reviews on Goodreads, some find the romances hard to accept. The Kindle edition is $2.95. For those into set in Paris during World War two fiction, I
would say give it a try. I would read another book by Charles Belfoure.
Charles Belfoure is a New York Times bestselling author and architect who lives in Westminster, Maryland. A graduate of the Pratt Institute and Columbia University, he practices historic preservation as both an architect and consultant.
The Paris Architect is his first novel.
Belfoure has also written architectural histories, including Monuments to Money: The Architecture of American Banks (2011), and Edmund Lind: Anglo-American Architect of Baltimore and the South (2009). He is the co-author of Niernsee & Neilson, Architects of Baltimore (2006) and The Baltimore Rowhouse (2001).
The recipient of a grant from the James Marston Fitch Charitable Foundation and the Graham Foundation, Belfoure has won multiple awards for his books from the Maryland Historical Trust…from http://www.charlesbelfoure.com/