Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Paris Architect - Charles Belfoure (2013)

I wonder if Charles Belfoure is the only architect to have ever written a novel in which the main protagonist is an architect? It sounds like a recipe for literary disaster, but to give Belfoure credit the outcome does have its merits. In Nazi occupied Paris architect Lucien Bernard is offered much needed money to design hiding places for Jews by a rich Jewish industrialist. Lucien is a reasonably well drawn character who initially has little sympathy for the Jews, but then undergoes a moral transformation.  Although it is no great literary triumph The Paris Architect is an old fashioned pot-boiler that does produce some genuine narrative tension. However many of the German characters are one dimensional evil Nazis and there is an improbable feel good ending that you can’t help liking despite its cheesiness. Against the odds the novel draws you in and although Sacred Hearts (2009) was a much better written novel I enjoyed The Paris Architect much more, although some of my book club members would disagree. Read this one on the train, or propped up on your sick-bed when you can’t bear too much intellectual strain!

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