A Hero of France by Alan Furst
Happy #WellTailoredWednesday and hope you are staying safe during these turbulent times! I realized that I haven’t read a World War 2 book in ages. I decided to start with Alan Furst, who many regard as one of the best WW2 authors out there, especially for spy novels. Furst has a series of books called “Night Soldiers” and A Hero of France is Book #14 of the series. I plan on reading the rest of the series in the coming months, so stay tuned for those book reviews!
Setting the Background
A key characteristic of Furst’s writing is the way he’s able to describe life during those turbulent times. And from the onset, he does exactly that by painting Occupied Paris through the eyes of its people. Perhaps because I spent 3 months in Paris or maybe because I’m just a sucker for maps, but I appreciated the first couple of pages of the book that show several maps of Occupied Paris, as well as the breakdown of Occupied France and Vichy France.
A Hero of France tells the story of Mathieu, a fighter in the French Resistance. I love reading about the Resistance movement during the war, both in France and also throughout Europe. The tales of courage, patriotism, fear, and human spirit are inspiring to me. Furst does an excellent job of portraying these traits in the characters throughout the book. Unlike other novels, Mathieu isn’t your typical “hero”: he’s not always righteous, he has deep insecurities around his past, and he continues to have trust issues with many of his acquaintances. Although of course, it’s not easy to trust people when you’re a Resistance fighter during the war…!
Overall, I liked the book. While some parts seemed to have dragged on, especially in the middle, Furst did an excellent job Mathieu and the slew of characters in the book and how their lives intertwine with the mission of liberating France. Furst’s usage of adjectives, verbs, and sprinklings of French throughout the book paint a vivid image in the reader’s mind. For all these reasons, I give this book a 4/5.
Read If You:
- Are a World War 2 buff and enjoy reading about the Resistance
- Read the other books in the Night Soldiers series
- Want a suspenseful read to take your mind off Covid-19!
Don’t Read If You:
- Scare easily about wartime stories. While not very graphic, there are parts of the book that show just how brutal the Gestapo and SS were to citizens who helped the Resistance movement
- Are expecting a lot of action throughout the book. While there is definitely a lot of action, Furst also takes his time with character development and suspense building
- Would get offended with descriptions of sex and nudity. There’s a little bit of that in this book!
Be sure to check out my other book reviews here. Thanks for reading and please feel leave your thoughts in the Comments’ section below!