Like most gentiles in Nazi-occupied Paris, architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews. So when a wealthy industrialist offers him a large sum of money to devise secret hiding places for Jews, Lucien struggles with the choice of risking his life for a cause he doesn't really believe in. Ultimately he can't resist the challenge and begins designing expertly concealed hiding spaces - behind a painting, within a column, or inside a drainpipe - detecting possibilities invisible to the average eye. But when one of his clever hiding spaces fails horribly and the immense suffering of Jews becomes incredibly personal, he can no longer deny reality.
Written by an expert whose knowledge imbues every word, this story becomes more gripping with every life the architect tries to save.
©2013 Charles Belfoure (P)2013 Random House Audio
"Words like "riveting" and "compelling" aren't strong enough to describe this remarkable novel narrated by Mark Bramhall and set in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942." (AudioFile)
"A beautiful and elegant account of an ordinary man's unexpected and reluctant descent into heroism during the second world war." (Malcolm Gladwell)
"Belfoure writes like an up-and-coming Ken Follett ... There's plenty of detail to interest architecture buffs, too." (Booklist)
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
I didn't like where this book started. I loved where it ended. It was about Paris and people's moral limits in war time. The characters all did some interesting life change turns, when confronted with evil past stupidity. Don't know if it was realistic, but it was heart warming.
Great all around story and character development. Also enjoyed the historical fiction aspect to it.
It took a little time to get into it but once I was into it, I was hooked.
I strongly disagree with previous comments knocking the narrator.
How do I put this one into words for my review?! It was gooooooood. A goooood novel. Not high literature, but damn it all I enjoyed it a lot. Exciting. It starts with great historical details of life in Paris during WW2, then the excitement builds and builds and builds. Parts are gruesome, but the ending left a big smile on my face. Yeah, tons of fun.
But I have to tell you this: the narration of the audiobok was t-e-r-r-i-b-l-e…..by Mark Bramhall. I mean his French and German dialects were laughable. And you are not supposed to be laughing. He cannot do women’s voices either. I mean bad. OK, when he is just relating straight events, not dialogs, you can relax. The thing is, the terrible narration did NOT affect my appreciation of the book. I make a huge effort to distinguish between the writing and the narration of a book. Good book, but lousy narration. As usual, I am rating the book, not the narration when I give those stars.
There is humor. There are historical details. The book captures the French and how they looked upon the Nazi occupation of Paris. Some French were no angels. Collaborators and those of the Résistance, they are both here. Very realistic. Some women were great and others despicable. Some French were great and some Germans too! :0) Yes, you get architecture too. Classical and Bauhaus and ….oh you have to read this fun, exciting, scary and amusing book. I loved, absolutely loved the ending. It is a novel! I do not want to tell you more than that. Otherwise I might spoil your reading experience.
When I have a little money I buy books and if there is any left over, I buy food.
This would have been a straight up five star book in all categories had the author not felt compelled to use the F word and include vulgarities in graphic detail. Did they use that word back then? I'm sure there were nasty men and women with little morals back then as there are now and these characters could very well have been defined in truth without exposing the reader to such indecency. My opinion is nobody would have missed the profanity or the sexual content had it been left out. Mr. Belfoure has catered to the lower class masses. Sad!!!
The narrator did an nice job, giving voice and life to all of the characters equally. His performance deserved four stars but for the sake of making my point...I chose not to.
I have listened to 4 hours of this 11 hour audiobook and although I do think it could have been a really great story the filth makes my skin crawl. I'll not be finishing it.
I'm glad Audible has agreed to exchange this book for one that will not be so offensive. Audible, if you are listening: PLEASE find a way to RATE THE CONTENTS of audiobooks for language, violence, and adult or sexual content! At least we could make informed decisions about what, when, where, and if we want to listen.
"Brilliant and heart breaking"
Yes - it's harrowing and moving but very clever and beautiful too
All characters were beautifully written and read - there wasn't a weak link
Thank goodness I didn't try to read the book - I would have been torn between covering my eyes and being desperate to read on! Lovely, gentle paced book, beautifully written and read.
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