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A Hero in France by Alan Furst

A Hero in France

Action Adventure / Spy   Historical Fiction   
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A Maxim Jakubowski selected title.

Still set against Furst's familiar background of the dark years of WW2, this new offering full of treachery and intrigue for once eschews the tropes of espionage and restricts itself to a sober chronicle of the early years of the German occupation of Paris. It's 1941 and a man known as Mathieu works for the fledgling resistance and is instrumental in assisting downed British airmen to flee the clutches of the Nazis and return to England to continue the war effort. His helpers include shopkeepers, nightclub owners, lovers, students and barmen working in the shadows and dodging retribution with every perilous step. Furst, as ever, meticulously brings the grey years of the shadow war to life and his attention to details is worthy of the best of historical writing. Everyday heroism and patriotism is evoked with delegant and spare prose and the sum of the pieces feels altogether more epic than the individual incidents: the true mark of a writer in full control of his craft. ~ Maxim Jakubowski

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


A Hero in France by Alan Furst

Spring, 1941. Britain is losing the war. Paris is occupied by the Nazis, dark and silent at night. But when the clouds part, and moonlight floods the city, a Resistance leader called Mathieu steps out to begin his work. The fighters of the French Resistance are determined not to give up. These courageous men and women - young and old, aristocrats and nightclub owners, teachers and students - help downed British airmen reach the border with Spain. In farmhouses and rural churches, in secret hotels, and on the streets, they risk everything to open Europe's sealed doors and lead Allied fighters to freedom. But as the military police heightens surveillance, Mathieu and his team face a new threat, dispatched from the Reich to destroy them all.


More tales of derring-do against the Nazis from the excellent Furst * THE SUN * Eloquently told, with Furst's customary mastery of both atmosphere and character - not to mention his delicate touch with tension - it is confirmation he is a writer without peer in the recreation of wartime espionage. * DAILY MAIL * When the theme is espionage during the dark days of wartime Europe, Alan Furst is one of its elite novelists. * THE TIMES * a more more-ish read than the vast majority of more meaty, formula-driven thrillers * SUNDAY TIMES * Once again, Furst succeeds in turning human history into tense, humane - and in parts surprisingly sexy - drama * MAIL ON SUNDAY *

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

2nd June 2016


Alan Furst

More books by Alan Furst
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Author's Website


Weidenfeld & Nicolson an imprint of Orion Publishing Co


256 pages


Action Adventure / Spy
Historical Fiction

Espionage & spy thriller



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