Two years ago, I had this novel on my Christmas wish list. I received it, too. I have just gotten around to reading it. It’s a great book. THE PARIS ARCHITECT, by Charles Belfoure, is disturbing and compelling. It’s WW11, what else would we expect!
“In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard accepts a commission that will bring him a great deal of money-and maybe get him killed. But if he’s clever enough, he’ll avoid any trouble. All he has to do is design a secret hiding place for a wealthy Jewish man, a space to invisible that even the most determined German officer won’t find it. He sorely needs the money, and outwitting the Nazis who have occupied his beloved city is a challenge he can’t resist.”
I read a lot of stories of the Holocaust. But never get tired of the ones dealing with hiding the hunted. This one gives us yet another glimpse into that world. Just imagine being an architect. Then trying to design a superior hiding place for people. And, keep in mind, the “usual” places are the first places the gestapo look: behind the bookcases; under floorboards; behind closets; etc. This is a real challenge.
When we first meet Lucien he is an egotistical snob of a Parisian lost in his own world. He could care less about the Jewish situation as long as it does not involve him. He is, however, in a pickle. He’s used all his money, and now is dipping into his wife’s. Not good. His wife is disenchanted to say the least. Their love has been waning for some time now. His having a mistress is not helping.
What intrigued me about this story is watching the transformation of Lucien from being a self-righteous prig, into a most caring person willing to sacrifice everything for those he holds dear.
I would like to have seen more of the character of the wife. She rarely appears. And some characters seem to disappear and we do not hear about them again.
There are some despicable characters in this story. But they only keep you turning the pages faster.
THE PARIS ARCHITECT is a quick read. It’s informative. And it’s well-written.