So when i found out that part 16 changed dates to October I thought that meant that this one must have some closure and so it does as finally we haveSo when i found out that part 16 changed dates to October I thought that meant that this one must have some closure and so it does as finally we have the ("official") purpose of the lodge articulated, though of course there are wrinkles and more unknown players which makes what will come next quite interesting
But before this we have the adventures of another new character (the one that ended part 14 of course) and we meet again various characters from earlier parts, from Teucer to the queen of Blemya and of course Lysao who is (obviously) the target of the attack that ends the previous volume; lots of name dropping too and we are informed of a vacancy for a Lodge commissioner position, so more speculations given earlier parts
Still excellent and entertaining and a good stopping point promising much more to come...more
It's a fairly informative book following mostly the later part of the Empire from the 1780's until the dissolution. The main drawback was the somewhatIt's a fairly informative book following mostly the later part of the Empire from the 1780's until the dissolution. The main drawback was the somewhat monotonic style that lacked the page-turning qualities of the best popular history books around ...more
I remembered about this book as I've come across a book of the author that interests me since it takes place in Romania during WW2(review March 2016)
I remembered about this book as I've come across a book of the author that interests me since it takes place in Romania during WW2 ;
I read When We Were Gods a while ago - cannot say when for sure but it was in a period i was fascinated with Cleopatra's story and reading a few of the many novels dedicated to her (there is one I really enjoyed by Margaret George, there is another by Gillian Bradshaw which is an what if her son with Caesar survived, and many others) and I still remember that this was of the "easy, rolling, adventure" type without too much subtlety but where the reader is compelled to turn the pages and see what happens next even when said reader kind of knows how it will turn out...more
just bad and one of the most monumental wastes of time in recent memory - having the action happen partly in Romania (obviously the author did not evejust bad and one of the most monumental wastes of time in recent memory - having the action happen partly in Romania (obviously the author did not even check Wikipedia that well as there are enough mistakes about the Romania of 1940 that a cursory look online would show them, so I shudder to think what;'s wrong about Turkey in the same years when the action moves there) - made me read this book as well as the fact that the femme fatale de rigueur was Romanian (the hero being the introverted conflicted and honorable Englishman good in action, quick with a gun and smarter than anyone, though lacking the Bondian humor which made such bearable at least long ago)
overall: utter junk to run away from as fast as possible...more
After the ok'ish but not quite top of the line Midnight in Europe, Alan Furst returns to France (whiThe 14th novel in the loose Night Soldiers series
After the ok'ish but not quite top of the line Midnight in Europe, Alan Furst returns to France (which is the setting of a majority of his Night Soldiers books, while featuring in almost all) and delivers an excellent novel and a return to form.
While it is billed as his first novel set during WW 2 proper - as usually his books in the loose series ended when the war started or immediately after in 1939, though there were exceptions that kept the action going for a few years during the war as well as generally noting the fate of the main characters in an epilogue in 1945-46 - A Hero of France has most of the characteristics of the others as it takes place in a few months period from March till June 1941 in France where the war has actually ended with the catastrophic defeat of 1940 and the division of the country between the Northern Occupied part and the Southern Vichy Regime
similarly to most his other books we mainly follow "Mathieu", a single attractive Parisian man in his early forties, former tank commander for a very short time in the war and presumably of some position in society (without too many spoilers we actually find out his actual identity in the epilogue) who runs a proto-Resistance cell dedicated to smuggling downed English airmen from the RAF raids to Germany which go over France to the Vichy France where the authorities turn a blind eye to them and let them go back to England through neutral Spain; obviously the Germans are very annoyed about this and they try to destroy these cells in Paris and the rest of occupied France, but for the moment they are somewhat hampered by the Fuhrer's desire to woo the French on his side, so the German authorities tend to use mostly regular Police and their French counterparts and stay within the law as it is, rather than unleash the Gestapo and the SD and their terrorist tactics
in particular while the life of the cells tends to be about six months as an English high class operative cynically puts it to Mathieu (who with his Sorbonne past takes a cordial dislike to the Oxbridge aristocrat at first glance) at some point when he tries to buy Mathieu's cell with lots of cash and expand the resistance to deadlier (and obviously considerably riskier) goals, even if arrested the people of the cells tend to be tried under French law for relatively minor offenses like people smuggling rather than treason and with enough cash, stay in in local prisons for the usual year or two upon conviction, while the English airmen are taken to German POW camps where they are treated decently;
but there are ominous signs pointing to change as the increased number of informers and money rewards for turning in English airmen, the more and more obvious reluctance of the French authorities in both occupied France and Vichy to help or at least turn a blind eye can signal a turn of the somewhat civilized business of resistance to a brutal, take no prisoners one; and obviously waiting on the side the deep Soviet run cells which are notorious for their brutal methods (and to whom Mathieu also has a somewhat unwitting connection) in France are preparing for action as the relations between the Nazis and the soviets are deteriorating visibly...
And so it goes, with the aforementioned usual elements - including the love interest, a few recurrent secondary characters, the usual recounting of the Bulgarian waiter incident (told in the Night Soldiers novel which opened the series many years ago but recounted in most novels as a sort of "grounding place"), the intrigue, the moments of action and the rising tension as stakes grow higher and higher, while discovery becomes seemingly unavoidable...
A great ending and the expected epilogue round an excellent novel in the usual style of Alan Furst
overall, highly recommended as a return to form for the author and one of the best entries in the loose Night Soldier series
While written in 1981, the first English translation of Young Once has just been published in 2016 and it is the first book from the author that captiWhile written in 1981, the first English translation of Young Once has just been published in 2016 and it is the first book from the author that captivated me from the first page, so i essentially read it in one sitting (as it is quite short) and then re-read it as by the end, a lot of things are seen better in retrospect, especially that on first read the book is really elusive - which is clearly due to the author's style and the way he keeps the main two characters at a distance, Louis and Odille appearing almost like "puppets" that move mechanically on a string; this until the end when they are shown taking the decision that leads them to where they are now 15 years later (in the late 70's) when the book starts, reasonably prosperous owning a large home and contently running a daycare business in it somewhere in the French Alps and with two children aged 5 and 13 of their own...
But there is a lot of mystery behind the scenes and while everything is very veiled, there is an English postcard that hints at the background story
Anyway, most of the book takes place sometime in the early 60's when Louis Memling, aged 19, son of a formerly famous French cyclist and a cabaret dancer who both died in a car crash some years before, living him destitute and unable to finish his boarding school education, is discharged from his 2 years in the army and is taken under his wing by shady businessman Brossier who may have noted young Louis' polished speech/appearance when they met accidentally in a bar; later Louis becomes a sort of secretary and factotum for Brossier's important associate Roland "de" Bejardy, a former war hero from a noble French family, decorated at 23, but whose life after the war took a wrong turn when he became involved in black market activities in 1945-46; as an admirer of Louis' father, Bejardy hires him despite a somewhat initial reluctance given Louis' lack of credentials, though one is led to wonder if things were actually random and Brossier met Louis by chance...
In the same time, Odille, recently fired for shoplifting from the perfume shop she has worked in (and with a familial history tragic in different ways than of Louis), spends her days in a bar listening to the singers and dreaming of becoming one, when she is "discovered" by a middle aged Viennese exile who was a young up and coming composer in the 1930's when the "Flood" came as one of his former associates puts it later, so now he works a modest job for a record company, going to bars to discover "new talent"...
Brought together by chance Louis and Odille stick together as people on a raft boat in the turbulence that is life for them and so it goes...
Overall, an excellent lyrical and moody novel that convinced me to try more work from the author ...more