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Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst
  

Midnight in Europe

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Sarah Broadhurst's view...

One of Alan Furst’s period spy novels for which he is renowned. This is not his best but still a fascinating, intriguing read. It concerns arms smuggling to the anti-Franco forces as the Spanish Civil War escalates, starring Cristián Ferrar, an American, Spanish-born émigré living in Paris. With the weapons coming across Poland, the tension is racked up when a German spy gets close to Cristián. It is very much George Smiley territory.

If you like Alan Furst you might also like to read books by Robert Wilson, Dan Fesperman and Martin Cruz Smith.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Another very pacy thriller from Alan Furst, meticulously researched, and atmospheric in its film noir style. Set largely in Paris in 1938, it features Cristián Ferrar, a handsome and successful Spanish lawyer who is a partner in an international firm. With civil war ongoing in Spain, Ferrar becomes an unofficial consultant to the so-called Technical Bureau, using his contacts and expertise to buy arms for export to his home country As his mission takes him far and wide, so he finds himself allied to a disparate group of people: gangsters, arms dealers, and aristocrats, all working for the Spanish cause or caught in the shadow of war that looms over the whole of Europe. From the smarter arrondissements of the French capital to ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ in Poland and a freighter on a dangerous voyage on the Black Sea, Ferrar’s affiliations ensure his world is never dull!
~ Karen Howlett

Synopsis

Midnight in Europe by Alan Furst

Paris, 1938. A shadow edges over Europe. Democratic forces are locked in struggle, while in Spain the war has already begun. Cristian Ferrar, a handsome Spanish lawyer in Paris, is a well-connected man. Ferrar is approached to help a clandestine agency supply weapons to beleaguered Republican forces and agrees, putting his life on the line. Joining Ferrar in his mission is an unlikely group of allies; idealists and gangsters, arms traders and aristocrats, including Max de Lyon, a man hunted by the Gestapo, and the Marquesa Maria Cristina, a refined beauty with a taste for danger. From libertine nightclubs in the City of Light to volatile bars by the docks in Gdansk, Furst paints a spell-binding portrait of a continent marching into a nightmare - and the heroes and heroines who fought back.

About the Author

Alan Furst

Alan Furst is widely recognised as the master of the historical spy novel. Now translated into eighteen languages, he is the author of fourteen novels including MIDNIGHT IN EUROPE, SPIES OF THE BALKANS - a TV Book Club choice - THE SPIES OF WARSAW, which became a BBC mini-series starring David Tennant and THE FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT. Born in New York, he lived for many years in Paris, and now lives on Long Island.

Below is a Q & A with this author.

Who's your favourite author?
I've got a lot of favourites, but my favourite favourite is Anthony Powell – his insight and technical magic are just beyond good. He is for me a real pleasure. I grew up with John Steinbeck and especially Bernard Malamud, I also like Von Rezzori (not all of it, but most), Joseph Roth, Primo Levi, Eric Ambler, of course, some Graham Greene, Mary Renault as a historical novelist, and I must include George MacDonald Fraser.

What's the first book you remember reading?
I can't remember whether it was The Wind in the Willows, Babar or something else. I remember Ratty and Moley, and Celeste – I can also remember reading "boys' books" which were hand-me-downs from the 1940s.

Where do you live? And why?
Sag Harbor, New York, six miles from the ocean, where the beaches are deserted for most of the year and the dog can run. It's beautiful here, but my heart's in Paris, so I go there when I'm able.

Where do you write?
I write in a converted 1930s garage with French doors and an old brick floor, looking out onto a garden.

Typewriter, word processor or pen?
Typewriter, a Lexmark personal wheelwriter, descendant of the mighty IBM Selectric.

Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then refugee country (see Isaac Bashevis Singer and Bernard Malamud), now celebrated.

How many brothers and sisters do you have? Is anyone else in your family a writer?
No brothers and no sisters, I was a very late-in-life kid. We have no writers in the family; we were not well educated. It was pretty much high school and that was it.

Did you enjoy school? What is your most vivid memory of your school years?
I didn't like school much. I liked a few teachers and liked my friends, who taught me what I needed to know and told me what to read.

Did you always want to be an author? If not, what did you originally want to be and when and why did you change your mind? I've been a writer since the age of nine, never anything else, really. I changed my mind with a thunderclap about what to write after four books. I started as a poet – very serious about that; wrote a novel which I thought was a potboiler but wasn't. It didn't boil the pot and was estimably, to my astonishment, published.

What were the first pieces of writing that you produced? e.g. short stories, school magazine etc. My first writing was for school newspapers, then for a literary magazine in college, although actually I wrote stuff for myself earlier. I wrote non-fiction to survive, for Esquire and for International Herald Tribune amongst others. I also wrote ad copy to survive in my twenties and that was really good for me – it had to be right – and fast.

What jobs did you have before you started writing?
All the dust-jacket jobs: factory worker (summers in high school and college), fruit-picker, hay-bale bucker, taxi driver in New York, like that.

How do you write each novel, i.e. do you block out the narrative first, take each page at a time, create the central character, build a cast of characters?
I try to block out the novels, although I'm never successful. My outlines last 60 pages if I'm lucky, and after that it's up to my characters. Thank God for them, they know what needs to be done, and how to have a good time when they're not doing it.

What is a typical writing day?
Up at 5.30, work till noon or I've reached 500 words, two pages, whichever is first. Just like Ernest Hemingway said to do.

Have you started your next book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The new book is well under way: The Foreign Correspondent, about Italian anti-fascist émigrés in Paris in 1939 and the clandestine press.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999

Author

Alan Furst

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Author's Website

alanfurst.net/index.htm

Publisher

Format

Hardback

Categories

Action Adventure / Spy
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ISBN

9780297863953

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