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The Paris Architect

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  8,829 ratings  ·  1,307 reviews
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 con ...more
Hardcover, 371 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Sourcebooks (first published 2013)
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Patsy Fitzpatrick The drain pipe under the wash basin of water with the escape route leading to the garden was my favorite, because it had an escape.
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The drain pipe under the wash basin of water with the escape route leading to the garden was my favorite, because it had an escape.
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156th out of 618 books — 2,384 voters
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1st out of 22 books — 11 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rose  Mary Achey
The concept of this book was excellent….an architect who retrofits spaces within homes to hide Jewish individuals during WWII. The writing left much to be desired. Filled with anachronisms, the narrative was so simplistic; it just did not fit the time period.

From The Paris Architect page 198:

“He felt as if he was in one of those dumb-ass American movies he’d seen. A character would be in a quandary over what to do. A miniature angel wearing wings and halo appeared on one shoulder telling him
...more
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Can you trust the people you used to trust? Can your life be normal? That question was asked every single day of Lucien's life and every single day of any French citizen living in Paris during the Nazi occupation.

Life definitely was not the same as before. You had to watch everything you said and did. Lucien had to make a decision about doing something he knew was very dangerous. Lucien was an architect and was asked to design hiding places for Jewish friends of Auguste Manet, a well-known busin
...more
Chrissie
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 laugh
...more
Skip
Undeservedly low ratings on Goodreads. In 1942 Paris, gifted architect Lucien Bernard is leading double lives: a dull, loveless marriage while having an affair with a famous designer and accepting commissions from a Christian to design hiding places for Jews and to design factories for the Nazis. Living in terror, Lucien is afraid of the Gestapo (for helping Jews) as well as the resistance (for helping the German war effort), even though Lucien rationalizes his work as benefiting a post-war Fran ...more
Erika Robuck
From the moment I saw the haunting cover of this novel, I knew I had to read it. The small Jewish girl hiding in plain sight says so much about the work of gifted architect, Lucien Bernard, the flawed protagonist of Charles Belfoure’s THE PARIS ARCHITECT.

Lucian is fairly despicable at the start of the novel. He no longer loves his wife, he has a mistress, and he does not care about the Jews being plagued by the Nazis in occupied France. He only cares about surviving by making as much money as po
...more
Rebecca
I'll have a think about that rating because I'm really torn - I could give it anywhere from 2 to 5 stars based on particular parts of the book. It was my first full audiobook so a very different reading experience but, for the most part, an enjoyable one. I loved the history aspect and the descriptions of Paris were wonderful - even if I don't care much for architecture, I'm very into Paris. Some parts drew me in, while sometimes I felt as though the story was dragging unnecessarily. Very intere ...more
Laura
3.5 stars. I'm tempted to give this a four just because it became such a page-turner. The plot is the thing here. And if you're interested in architecture, the author is also an architect, so bonus. WWII stories always grab me in the gut because how can they not? I'm still amazed at what happened. I'm amazed at the evil and just plain insanity exhibited by the Nazis, and that so many innocent people were killed simply because one certifiable man was able to convince a bunch of sheep to join him. ...more
B the BookAddict
Apr 05, 2014 B the BookAddict rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: GR
Shelves: fiction, holocaust

While the method of alluding the Nazis mentioned in this book is one which doubtless would have been used, this particular story itself is fictional. These events are not drawn from one particular case; rather, the author says he got the idea from the story of Nicholas Owen, a Jesuit lay brother who devoted the greater part of his life to constructing hiding places to protect the lives of persecuted priests during the reign of Elizabeth 1.

In 1942 Paris, all Jewish people are being rounded up by
...more
Claire
This was on someone-or-other's list of “best books of the year.” I think it was a writer that I very much like, so I trusted their recommendation.

It is a novel with fairly well-developed characters. Our protagonist is an architect in Paris (hence the not-too-creative-title) in 1942. He designs buildings for the Nazis and also designs hiding places in Paris apartments for Jewish people who can pay for them. The story begins when he is helping to hide the Jews only for payment, but as things happ
...more
Barb
4.5 but since this is the first novel in quite a while that I could not put down, I have rounded it up. A fast paced story with an ever increasing tension, made it an entirely satisfactory read. The transformation of Lucien Bernard was well developed and humanly realistic. Having never lived under such circumstances, I can only hope that I would be that brave and heroic. Looking forward to talking about this book at book club next week.
Marti

The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure is a fast moving book, that captures your attention. The setting of Occupied Paris is richly drawn as is the lure of survival. The main character, Lucien is a character who changes as the novel moves, but not without struggles and betrayals. What he is doing is very, very dangerous and there is one German who is determined to capture this man who tricks and deceives the Germans

Lucien Bernard is an architect who is struggling, but then so many people are in
...more
Amber
I really struggled with how to rate this book.

On the one hand, I've read a ton of WW2 fiction and I loved how this presented a different perspective. The story was engaging and suspenseful, and in some passages so realistic that I felt sick to my stomach.

On the other hand, I really struggled with the narrative voice. Something about it just kept popping me out of the story. I also felt like Lucien's changes of heart and growth were not well explained - not so much growth as just a sudden unexpla
...more
Kelly
The only thing this book has going for it is a good premise. Seriously, I love historical fiction, character development in trying times, and moral quandaries. (Also, architecture! And plots set abroad!) I wasn't expecting anything high-brow, just a good, plot-driven escape. But. Let me count the ways that this book failed:

1. The writing is atrocious. No, really, it's clunky and the dialogue is about as stilted as you can get.
2. Most of the characters lack the motivation for the actions they ca
...more
thewanderingjew
From the first word heard on this audio, I was a prisoner. I think the story held me more rapt than the reader; it moved along quickly, and totally consumed me. I never turned it off, until the end. It is about unlikely heroes, who rose above their own expectations, and it is about traitors, by design, as well as those who became quasi-traitors, those tortured into confessions to avoid more pain. It is about the German effort to seek out and find the hidden Jews in order to steal their wealth.
It
...more
Alyse Liebovich
I heard about this title at a Book Buzz event a few days before attending ALA and was so excited when I saw one of the publisher's booths at ALA giving away free ARC copies of it. It was recommended to people who like Ken Follett but enjoy reading about the WWII era.
When I excitedly asked if I could take one of the copies, the woman said, "Don't start it at 10pm like I did!" She was right. Although I enjoyed "Pillars of the Earth" by Follett, it was for way different reasons. I didn't have a ha
...more
Marie
I really wanted to love The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure, the premise of the story and the transformation of Lucien from a self-centred person to intentionally risking himself for others, were what drew me to the book.

Unfortunately the clumsy writing, awkward dialogue, the flat and stereotyped characters, made it hard to slog through.

Characters were introduced as supports for future plot elements, their situation unfolds quickly so they can wait until they are needed to push the plot fo
...more
The Baking Bookworm
My Review: This was an impressive debut novel that hit all the major points that I love in a historical fiction read: vivid settings, wonderfully diverse, well-developed characters and a story line that was suspenseful and moved at a good pace. This book has officially gotten me out of my slight reading slump!

I'm an avid reader of WWII/Holocaust reads but this book surprised me by bringing a compelling premise to the table surrounding Lucien, the architect at the centre of the story who hid Jews
...more
Carol
I wish I could give it 5 stars but, while the story line is great, the author's technical skills don't live up to the promise.

Lucien is a thirty-something modernist architect (think Gropius or Le Corbusier) in 1942 Paris, France. Like others of his skill-set, Lucien is struggling financially. His marriage is childless and crumbling as well. Into his life walks uber-wealthy industrialist Auguste Manet with an offer. Build Manet a "priest hole" (an undiscoverable hiding place)in an apartment for a
...more
Terri Lynn
Powerful! Exquisite! Heartbreaking! Heartwarming! This book was all of that and then some. I was completely blown away by the rare beauty of this story of an Atheist architect Lucien Bernard who lived in Paris during the occupation of France by the Nazis.

At first Lucien doesn't really care about what is happening to the French Jews when a wealthy gentile Monsieur Manet asks him to build a secret hiding place for a Jew. Lucien knows he could be tortured to death by the Gestapo for doing such a t
...more
Meg - A Bookish Affair
4.5 stars. One of the things that I love about books about World War II is that many times they show the good side of human nature against the very dark events that happened during the war. "The Paris Architect" is a fictional tale but with all of the great historical detail and the well-rounded characters, the story feels very real and definitely shows those two sides of human nature that are so absolutely fascinating to me. This is the story of Lucien, an architect, who is sort of indifferent ...more
Paige
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
There is a constant stream of novels written about the Jewish experience during World War II - a time that continues to both enthral and terrify us. It is of immense importance to keep the past alive through personal, human stories, in the hopes that we will be better prepared, better able to spot such atrocities today and in the future. Sadly we've seen that this is a nice theory that doesn't play out; however it's important to keep trying.

One area of WWII that is less explored but equally impo
...more
Cynthia ☮ ❤ ❀
Review: The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

Title: The Paris Architect
Author: Charles Belfoure

Genre: Historical Fiction
Themes: Relationships, Trust, Survival
Setting: Paris, France, 1942
Point of View: 3rd Person

Publisher/Publication Date: October 8, 2013 by Sourcebooks Landmark

Source: NetGalley
Rating: Four of Five Stars
Finished/Not Finished: Finished

First Line: "Just as Lucien Bernard rounded the corner at the rue La Boetie, a man running from the opposite direction almost collided with him."
...more
☔Diane S.
2.5 When this story begins Lucien is on his way to what he thinks will be an architecture job, one that will be prominent enough to enhance his reputation for the future. The Nazi& have taken control of Paris, Jews are being rounded up and sent to the camps, there are food shortages, ordinary Parisians are in fear of their lives and co-operate with the Germans superficially, while secretly hating them and what they stand for. The beginning was strong, the discussion and details of architectu ...more
Kathryn
At times quite graphic in its description of Nazi brutality in occupied France, I found this a compelling book. It took me a while to “read” it, however, as I was listening to as an audiobook (and I thought the narrator did a good job with the French and German accents).

I had not been aware of some aspects of life in Paris under the Germans although I knew that the French were quite prepared to look the other way when it came to the Nazi hunt for Jews. I liked the development of the main charact
...more
Jean-Paul Adriaansen
This is a book you won't have to reread because you'll remember it for a very long time.
Lucien Bernard, an unemployed architect during the German occupation of Paris, gets a big financial offer if he can create the perfect hiding spot for a Jewish fugitive. Although he is not particularly fond of Jews, he accepts the order. His employer brings him in contact with the German HQ and very soon Lucien is a rising star among the Paris architects by planning German war factories. But everything has it
...more
Charlene Intriago
Perhaps this is not brilliantly written, but truly a good story. Lucien Bernard is an architect who needs work but finds the only people hiring are the Nazis occupying Paris and a wealthy man looking for a way to help his Jewish friends. What to do, what to do?? Lucien doesn't like the Nazis and knows what happens to those who help the Jews, but he has no choice when it comes to working for the Nazis - he wants to stay alive. He also thinks he is doing it for the good of France. After all, Franc ...more
Kristin
The review on the front of this book says "I dreamed about this book." I didn't have any dreams about it, but every time I left it, I couldn't stop thinking about it. Lucien Bernard isn't particularly likable when the book begins- as a struggling architect during wartime, he accepts the job of designing clever hiding places for Parisian Jews only for the money, not because it saves lives. His motivations eventually change when the secret job becomes more personal. It's suspenseful and fascinatin ...more
Margaret Crampton
This book set in German occupied Paris is an excellent read: where it is dangerous to be Jewish and the Gestapo so feared and so cruel. People lead double lives and who can you trust? The brilliant architect Lucien designs hiding places for Jews while designing munitions factories for the Germans. There are orphaned Jewish children bringing danger and death to their carers and wealthy industrialists funding these dangerous enterprises. Traitorous Lovers add to the mix. The ending is brilliant. H ...more
Sandy
The question of what exactly constitutes collaboration with the occupying Germans is one that Paris architect Lucien Bernard prefers to sidestep. There is very little work of any kind to be found so when he is approached by a wealthy industrialist about a special project, he finds it hard to resist even if it does involve devising hiding places for the man's Jewish friends. The money offered for the project is generous, but the carrot that is held out as an inducement (designing war factories fo ...more
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Charles Belfoure is the nationally bestselling author of The Paris Architect, and the forthcoming novel, House of Thieves. An architect by profession, he graduated from the Pratt Institute and Columbia University, and he taught at Pratt as well as Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. His area of specialty is historic preservation, and he has published several architectural histories, one of whi ...more
More about Charles Belfoure...
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“think how the world would’ve turned out if Hitler had gotten into art school, thought Lucien.” 2 likes
“but kept their eyes straight ahead. The Gestapo captain” 0 likes
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