Long time, no blog, Dear Bloggites. Life loves to get in the way of my ability to blog. This book review is very late and is over the novel my Books & Broads Book Club read in May.
The novel we read was The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure. The storyline was about a down and out architect, Lucien Bernard, who accepted a commission to create a hiding place inside a home for Auguste Manet during the German invasion of Paris, France. The hiding place was for Manet to hide any Jewish people the Germans were searching for in Paris. One of the twists in the novel was that Lucien, through Manet, also received commissions from the Germans to build military style compounds for additional weapons to be stored or made during the war. This commission brought about an interesting friendship that was built between Lucien and a German officer, Dieter Herzog, who also was a structural engineer for his home country of Germany.
Intrigue is an appropriate word I would use for the overall theme of the storyline. Living the double life through Lucien and Manet helped the reader find themselves investing in the good guys winning in the end while wanting the bad guys to suffer for the injustices they doled out to any Jew or Parisian. The different descriptions of the various architectural buildings was fascinating to me. I love architecture and have always had an infatuation with how architects were able to construct the amazing buildings I see. Charles Belfoure helped the reader delve into the mind of an architect through Lucien.
That being said, Lucien is not a very likable character and many of my Books & Broads Book Club Mates did not like him even at the end of the book. I found him to be very weak and selfish at the beginning of the book. He was the type of person who always put himself first over all others, however, by the end I did warm up to him when he finally found his true calling in life.
The author, Charles Belfoure, did a wonderful job with addressing the war-time era without taking away from the storyline. I cringe each time I am to read a book that has any kind of war theme behind it because I find too many novels lose the storyline in the description of the war atmosphere.
The characters throughout The Paris Architect were well developed and gave the reader some kind of emotional response, be it hate, love, disgust, admiration, etc., the reader did form an opinion on each character. The descriptions of Paris during the invasion was just enough to give a visual in the reader’s head but not so much that it overpowers the characters in the novel.
I did feel the author left some of the characters unfinished in the story, so much, that I felt they served no purpose in the book. I understand the author was looking to give some kind of visual of the Jewish people and the suffering they went through, but I felt each character was an afterthought thus putting a bit of a bad taste in my mouth for the story. Aside from this factor, I did enjoy the novel, The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure, and would consider reading additional novels by him.
I give The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure 4 out of 5 Bookmarks. Give it a whirl, Dear Bloggites, if you like to read about the challenges people faced during wartime.