The Flight Portfolio

Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
Length: 19 hrs and 29 mins
4.0 out of 5 stars (176 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The long-awaited new work from the best-selling author of The Invisible Bridge takes us back to occupied Europe in this gripping historical novel based on the true story of Varian Fry's extraordinary attempt to save the work, and the lives, of Jewish artists fleeing the Holocaust 

In 1940, Varian Fry - a Harvard-educated American journalist - traveled to Marseille carrying $3,000 and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to rescue within a few weeks. Instead, he ended up staying in France for 13 months, working under the veil of a legitimate relief organization to procure false documents, amass emergency funds, and set up an underground railroad that led over the Pyrenees, into Spain, and finally to Lisbon, where the refugees embarked for safer ports. Among his many clients were Hannah Arendt, Franz Werfel, Andre Breton, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Marc Chagall. 

The Flight Portfolio opens at the Chagalls' ancient stone house in Gordes, France, as the novel's hero desperately tries to persuade them of the barbarism and tragedy descending on Europe. Masterfully crafted, exquisitely written, impossible to pause, this is historical fiction of the very first order, and resounding confirmation of Orringer's gifts as a novelist.

©2019 Julia Orringer (P)2019 Recorded Books

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What listeners say about The Flight Portfolio

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Not finishing . . , writing is not good enough

I am fascinated by this story, but halfway through the book I am giving up on it. I loved Julie Orringer's The Invisible Bridge and was excited about reading this one. I wish she had stuck with the story of the attempts to save Europe's artists and writers. But it's tangled up with a love story that reads like a sub-par romance novel, and the writing is just not good. I'm off to find a nonfiction account of Varian Fry's work.

3 people found this helpful

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fiction? nonfiction?

I was half way through this novel when I read a review online that noted the fact that the author took great liberties with her character Varian Fry, an historical figure responsible for saving thousands of lives in Vichy France from 1940-41. She gave him a fictional homosexual lover, and killed off a few fictional artists that I originally grieved the loss of, until I learned they had never existed. It's a gripping novel, not a biography, full of cat and mouse rescues and the best forgers in France, but doesn't do Mr. Fry justice by tampering with the facts. Wasn't he heroic enough? Many of the subplots that engage the reader turn out to be fiction and I was ultimately disappointed despite the brilliant narration. Nineteen hours of listening...wore me out.

3 people found this helpful

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Horrible book

Insulting to the millions who died in WWII. Begging elites like Chagall to leave France when they were so narcissistic they thought their status would protect them. The whole premise these elites were more deserving of being saved was disgusting. Couldn’t finish this piece of trivial trash. Sorry I wasted a credit on it.

5 people found this helpful

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Another Title

Although I have nothing against homosexual sex, I found the book went on for far too long about an affair and not long enough about the story of saving artists in danger. I was interested in the Jewish. artists who were saved in Europe during WWll . I found the story dragged because the focus was on the Adair. Perhaps it should Have been given another title?

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did not care to finish it

I listened to half of the book and was exhausted listening to a botched love affair, i really thought the premise was interesting, regrets Julie didnt spend more time on the mission.

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I would rate Unabridged version higher

I do recommend the book, if you’re holy committed to WWII stories. I have not researched the book to find out how true it is, only looked at a few headlines. The flight portfolio is indeed a focus of the book, but the main plot is a wrenching love story between two interesting characters. I do pretty much always finish a book, and this one was no exception. Even when it went overly long, I was in it for the prose. Funny thing is that when it was all said and done, I stayed for the characters. The author got me so committed to them, that I simply had to find out what happened. I was rewarded with a plot twist, however it was quite easy to see how that would turn out. If I could give half stars, this would be a 3.5 out of five. I give for when it’s a full throated recommendation, and rarely come across a 4.5 or a five.

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One of the best books ever

Elegantly written, intriguing story with historical frame. I truly loved this book, and rank it amongst my favorites. I loved the author’s earlier novel The Invisible Bridge and found this one even more enthralling. There are some rich scenes throughout the work. The author writes like she is painting in vivid color and you are transported. I hope the next work from Julie Orringer is in the works. I’m waiting anxiously! The narration was also lyrically delivered and I’ll be out looking for something more from him as well. I could listen to that voice forever! Bravo!

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Wordy and overwrought

I am drawn to stories of WWII and the Nazi and Axis atrocities towards Jews and undesirables. It was a time of incomprehensible inhumanity. The basis of this story is a good one but the extreme focus on Mr. Fry and his homosexual romance took away from the plot, not to mention Mr. Fry’s character whining about his lover. Also too long. I haven’t read any of the author’s prior works and chose it because of the description on Audible of the aforementioned interest I have in Holocaust subject matter but this book’s main attention was given to the romance between Grant and Fry. Not what I wanted.

1 person found this helpful

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Such a disappointment

The introduction of Marc Chagall in the beginning of the book led me to believe this novel would focus on important aspects of history and not something else. Unfortunately this was a romance and important historical information was given short shrift if any attention. It seemed the author threw names of important people into her story to mislead the reader into thinking something of substance was forthcoming—you just had to be patient, E.g Hannah Arendt

1 person found this helpful

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What could have been....

The Invisible Bridge is one of my favorite books. I was thrilled when Portfolio showed up on Audible and grabbed it right away. I had to stop an hour or so into the audiobook. Tried again later, on and on, until I gave up completely. Something is very very wrong when Europe’s most vibrant artists are reduced to bit players while bickering lovers constantly whine and complain about who treated who worse. I don’t care if Varian Fry was gay or bi- or half black or whatever, I just couldn’t stand the constant mewling about it. Sure, good-doers have their own personal feelings and issues while going about their work and that doesn’t make them less heroic, just human. But it is not a plot equivalent to the extraordinary power to decide whose life is most worth saving and doing so again and again while dodging the murderous Nazi regime. (The real Varian Fry network is credited with saving thousands escape certain death.) Portfolio could have been a wonderful follow-up to Bridges but instead Orringer diminished her second novel to a wearying soap opera. Two stars for the brief glimpses of what could have been.

2 people found this helpful