Title: The Paris Architect
Author: Charles Belfoure
Page Count: 388 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Summary: A Parisian architect is paid handsomely to devise secret hiding spaces for Jews in his Nazi-occupied country but struggles with risking his life for a cause he is ambivalent towards, until a personal failure brings home their suffering.
SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement: 2019 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.
- 1. The story begins with Lucien Bernard rounding a corner at the Rue La Boetie and a man almost collides with him. The man is almost immediately shot down by the German soldiers. What did you think of Lucien’s reaction to this and did it set a tone for his character?
- 2. Lucien is an out of work architect, desperate for work. He meets with Auguste Manet who asks him to build a hiding space for a Jewish man being hunted by the Gestapo. Let’s talk about this interaction.
- 3. What did you think about Celeste and Lucien’s relationship?
- 4. Collaboration was a very sensitive topic for the French. Let’s talk about this
- 5. Let’s talk about Adele, Lucien’s mistress.
- 6. “The Occupation hadn’t just bred hatred of Jews; it had brought out the very worst in human beings, neighbor against neighbor and even friend against friend. People would screw over each other for a lump of butter”. Let’s discuss.
- 7. It was dangerous to hide Jewish people. What did you think of anyone hiding a Jewish person? Would you?
- 8. What did you think about Celeste’s reaction when Lucien admitted that he had saved two Jewish people?
- 9. Let’s talk about some of the German characters, did any stand out? If so why?
- 10. Most WW2 fiction, including this book, seems to portray most Germans in a less than pleasant light. What do you think of this?
- 11. The book is a series of vignettes describing the plight of Jewish people that were hiding. Did any of the stories particularly strike you?
- 12. Did you imagine yourself in any of the situations the Jewish people found themselves in? What would you have done if Captain Bruckner lined up the people in your neighborhood or you were forced to hide under a set of stairs?
- 13. We meet Adele’s right-hand “man”, Bette Tullard. Let’s talk about her.
- 14. Why do you think it was so important to Schlegel to find any hidden Jews?
- 15. Let’s talk about Father Jacques, the priest that took in Pierre.
- 16. Lucien ended up loving Pierre like a son. Why do you think Lucien took Pierre in?
- 17. Pierre realizes that there is something “off” about Alain and follows him. Let’s talk about this chapter.
- 18. Lucien’s attitude about helping Jewish people has an abrupt change, let’s talk about this
- 19. Lucien is approached by the Resistance. What is/was your opinion of France’s Resistance?
- 20. “The Resistance does its best under extremely difficult conditions. But we must fight back. To live defeated is to die every day”. Do you agree, or do you think it is better to choose your battles? Which side do you believe you would end up in, Resistance or Collaborator?
- 21. What did you think of Lucien helping the Resistance to sacrifice his factory?
- 22. Let’s talk about the ending.
- 23. “When all this Madness if over, I hope we meet again,” said Lucien to Herzog. Do you think they will? If so, what do you think would happen if they did meet after the war?
- 24. Did you have a favorite character?
- 25. Do you think history could repeat itself in today’s world?
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by Thomas Keneally