I am very excited to announce that the fabulous The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure is:
NEW IN PAPERBACK
2013 INDIE NEXT PICK ▪ NATIONAL READING GROUP MONTH SELECTION
A GUARDIAN and GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
The Paris Architect
By Charles Belfoure
In a gripping, acclaimed debut, author combines WWII history, personal backstory and architectural puzzles, in a vivid reimagining of Paris under the Occupation
Paris, 1942: Like most gentiles in Nazi-occupied Paris, architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews. Yet, when a wealthy industrialist offers him a coveted position designing German factories in exchange for creating secret hiding places for Jewish families, Lucien can’t resist the money—or the challenge. He begins a secret life, designing expertly concealed spaces invisible to the untrained eye, while working with the Germans on the other side.
But when one of Lucien’s clever hiding spaces fails horribly, the devastating plight of the Jews becomes personal. Lucien can no longer deny their suffering, or their shared humanity.
Compared to the literary thrillers of Ken Follett and Alan Furst, with real architectural puzzles drawn from history, The Paris Architect is a powerfully human novel of survival, self-knowledge, and sacrifice.
Charles Belfoure is an award-winning architect specializing in historical preservation. A graduate of the Pratt Institute and Columbia University, he is a former instructor at Goucher College and a freelance writer for the Baltimore Sun and the New York Times. He lives in Westminster, Maryland.
Paperback Release July 15, 2014; Sourcebooks Landmark; ISBN; 9781402294150; $14.99 U.S.
Praise for The Paris Architect
“A beautiful and elegant account of an ordinary man's unexpected and reluctant descent into heroism during the second world war” - Malcolm Gladwell
“Belfoure's portrayal of Vichy France is both disturbing and captivating, and his beautiful tale demonstrates that while human beings are capable of great atrocities, they have a capacity for tremendous acts of courage as well.” Library Journal, STARRED review
“Belfoure writes like an up-and-coming Ken Follett” – Booklist
“All novelists are architects. But are all architects novelists? Charles Belfoure in his impressive debut seems to have brought us the best of both worlds. Here is a novel to read alongside the latest Alan Furst. I hope there will be more.” - Alan Cheuse, Novelist and NPR book commentator
“The ingenious hiding spaces and the people in them infiltrated my imagination for weeks. I dreamed about this novel.” - Jenna Blum, New York Times bestselling author of Those Who Save Us
“Powerful and gripping” – Columbus Dispatch
“A terrific thriller, made all the better by our knowledge that stuff like this really happened.” – Minneapolis Star-Tribune
“A vivid, suspenseful story which keeps you gripped to the very last page. Charles Belfoure writes with great warmth, conjuring up an intriguing cast of characters, and painting a fascinating picture of Paris under the Occupation, with all its contradictions – the opulence, and the fear.” - Margaret Leroy, author of The Soldier's Wife
ALSO:USA Today Books – New Voices
Mr. Belfoure was kind enough to allow me to interview him!
1. What was your inspiration for "The Paris Architect?"
I came across some information about priest holes during the reign of Elizabeth I in the 16th century. Catholicism was outlawed and priests were banned from saying mass so they had to do it in secret out in manor houses in the countryside. If the Queen’s soldiers were tipped off and raided the house, the priest would slip into a small temporary hiding place. The soldiers would rip apart the house sometimes for days and never find the priest who was hiding under their noses. That really fascinated me so I transposed the story to World War II and made the carpenter who devised these ingenious hiding places into an architect (which is what I am) and based the plot on this historical event.
2. What was your research process like for this book?
I wanted to describe to the reader what life was like in occupied Paris so I gathered some books on the topic and did all the research before I started writing. I spend about 4 months gathering information which actually gave me some plot ideas.
- What was your favorite scene to write in your book?
I discovered that French priests hid many Jewish children and I created a character like that – Father Jacques. His scene with the Gestapo after he’s caught and is being interrogated is my favorite because of his courage and defiance. These priests weren’t at all afraid to die for what they’d done. They gladly went with the children to the extermination camps rather than betray others hiding children.
- Why do you think so many are still so drawn to reading about World War II?
Because there’s so much documentary film footage, Hollywood films, and the History Channel that people can see all the time. Plus, there are men still living who fought in the war who can give oral histories of the conflict. Hitler’s pure evil in creating the conflict also fascinates people. World War II is far more popular than World War I which was the real seminal event of the 20th century.
- If you could bring three historical figures or fictional characters with you to a deserted island, who would you bring and why?
- Holden Caulfield just to observe his manner plus enjoy his sense of humor.
- Hitler just to observe a truly evil person and find out if he had a different persona in private. Maybe he had a good sense of humor and told funny jokes.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald to see why a person with everything going for him threw life away.
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