Book Club: The Paris Architect, by Charles Belfoure
“The Paris Architect” is the debut novel of American author Charles Belfoure. His own personal interest with historical preservation inspired a fascinating fictional book about World War II. It is full of characters who demonstrate the spectrum of human emotion that is revealed times of political conflict.
The book is set in Nazi occupied France and tells the story of Lucien, a struggling architect, who, like many people in Paris, was not all that sympathetic to the Jews. He was quite a selfish and greedy man, whose personal life was in shambles. At the beginning of the story, he really has no sense of connection to the horrible situation taking place around him, and sees no responsibility beyond his own selfish desire for money and fame.
When a wealthy industrialist offers him money to create secret hiding places for Jews, he begins to see things differently. His transition from a private and somewhat detached citizen to a man intimately involved with the plight of the Jews is astounding. The way he gets involved in helping them escape in creative ways brings the story to life.
The plot, however, is tangled with human emotions and personal fears. Lucien’s own transformation and reinvention is at the heart of the story. His truly caring side comes out in unexpected ways. The book is a powerful statement of war, and the author looks at some very tough human dilemmas and examines how much we are able to give selflessly of ourselves.
I chose this book because I felt that women in the Sixty and Me Community could connect to this time in history. Since our parents lived through the war, I felt it might help to put into perspective some of the decisions that people had to make. It also raises an important discussion about how easy it is to focus on our own problems without getting involved when others need our help.
Ultimately, the book shows that, by in diving into challenges and empathizing with others who are struggling, we find untapped wells of strength and courage within ourselves.
If you don’t already have a copy of “The Paris Architect,” you can get it on Amazon.
To kick things off, here are a few questions. Please add your thoughts in the comments:
What did you think of The Paris Architect?
Were there any scenes that you really struggled with?
Did you like the evolution of the main character of Lucien?
How far would you go to help a stranger?
Would you trade your life for another’s in the name of what you now in your heart is right?
I hope that you enjoy this book! Please share your thoughts below.