Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on October 8th 2013
Genres: Historical, Fiction
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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 page, this story becomes more gripping with every life the architect tries to save.
I think, by now, my readers should know that I’m interested in World War II stories; even if not “based on true events”. So when I came across this one I had to read it.
The thing with this one is that I actually enjoyed the plot, the concept, and the character building, but I really disliked the language and dialogue. The story is, of course, set in WWII, so why then does the author use lots of modern figures of speech, or terms. That really irked me, and for that I just can’t give it 5 stars. The language was just too unrealistic for me.
Other than that though, I loved the story.
You start off not really caring for what happens to the main character, Lucien. He can’t see it but, he really is a collaborator; helping the Germans to design great buildings that will build weapons to kill the French and their allies in the war. Honestly, the story kind of made me hate the French [in the story]. They pretended that they weren’t bad people while they took jobs from the Nazis and dropped them information on where a Jew was hiding.
One character was abandoned by husband while pregnant with their child because she was of Jewish descent. People who had a great grandparent that was Jewish but was Christian were still punished for their heritage.
At first, Lucien is just like the other French. He thinks by doing nothing he is still a good man. Then he convinces himself that by helping the Germans build factories he will someday help France after the war is won, but he doesn’t even feel like he is partly responsible to try to help them win the war in the first place. This made me dislike him. And even though, in the end I didn’t exactly love him, I did see how getting involved with this, really changed him. It gave him the chance to be a different man, a better man.
He starts by accepting a job to build a hiding place and then from there it starts to change him, but not at first. At first he is still self absorbed, doing it just for himself and trying to make his mistress happy. Slowly he becomes more involved and the threat to him becomes more real.
I enjoyed The Paris Architect a lot. I wish that it was written in a more era appropriate language but overall it was still a great book and a fairly quick read.