How I Read It: Audiobook
Dates Read: 1/6/20-1/10/20
How I Found It: Book of the Month
Recognizing that I have listened for about 20 hours a week, I figured I could knock this book off my TBR pile. All I really knew going into this book was that it was going to be long and probably not the type of book I would choose for myself. I was extremely surprised by the content within the book, and while I probably will never pick it up for myself again, here are my thoughts:
Set in France during World War II, Varian Fry is working with the US government to get artists out of Europe and into a safer country. he ends up running into his former lover, Elliot Grant, and is requested to get Tobias Katznelson, son of Grant’s current lover Gregor, safe passage to the US. Following the course of a few months, we watch as Varian goes through 70 million complications while also falling in love over again with Grant.
I feel like I probably didn’t explain this well, but how else do you explain 550 pages? There is both so much that happened and also not that much, which shows just how futile it felt to get these extraordinary people into safety.
A lot of this book is about the relationship between Grant and Varian, which is cool because homosexuality was so taboo at this point of history. My biggest issue is that so much of the relationship took away from the story of the book. There needed to be a balance that wasn’t there, and so I understand why some people were upset by this. It almost felt like this book didn’t know what it wanted to be the focus so it made EVERYTHING the focus.
According to the author’s note, Varian Fry was a real man who saved many artists out of France. According to an interaction with a man named Hessel, the author developed a homosexual tendency for Varian. There was no Elliot Grant in history. Many of the key players in this book are of the author’s inventions, but that does not take away from the lives that he saved. While I knew that there was a movement to save artists in World War II, especially because Nazi Germany was attempting to destroy art, I never had a name to associate with it.
This is a really deep read that requires a lot of focus and patience. There are phrases in French (and potentially other languages too) and it can be very dense at times. But at the end of the day, it is a read that is impactful, and I hope that you take the time to read about this interesting history. Since this is the format, I guess I would give this book 3 out of 5 stars.
If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!