Thursday, July 06, 2006

Alan Furst, The Foreign Correspondent

Dave and I sometimes wait to get our hot new mysteries when the authors have circulated a bit, signing some copies, and gathering notice. So I only just got my hands on a (signed) copy of Alan Furst's wonderful new espionage thriller, The Foreign Correspondent. Lucky for me, I recently read his Kingdom of Shadows, because there's a lot of connection -- the dark pre-WW II worlds of Budapest, Berlin, Moscow, and Paris weave the fabric on which his characters shimmer. This novel centers on Carlo Weisz, a Reuters correspondent who is suddenly also appointed editor of an underground newspaper run by emigré Italians in Paris, trying to awaken their countrymen (through sending them the paper) to the sinister collaboration of Hitler and Mussolini.
While I was awaiting my copy of the book, I had an e-mail from a former international agent and espionage professional, who said he had found the book quite sweet. The term floored me -- a dark thriller with an undertaste of tenderness? But indeed, after a day and a half in which I was so engrossed in the book that meal prep was reduced to phoning for pizza and slicing bagels, I reached the unexpected conclusion and decided: Yes. Sweet. Even as the thunderheads of war loomed over the landscape, and death and torture spread, life retained an undertaste of possibility and small, gleaming pools of happiness after all.
This is perhaps another reason my Jewish German relatives preferred not to talk about experiencing the war and Holocaust. How would they have explained that moments of sunlight lingered, piercing the heart of the storm?

1 comment:

Beth Kanell said...

Our foreign service friend looked over this blog entry and commented, "It was the ending of Furst's book that I felt was sweet." Yes, that's right -- and, I might add, it's unexpectedly gentle, given the threatening atmosphere of impending global battle hanging over the time period of this suspense espionage novel. As someone used to say, "Expect the worst and you won't be disappointed" -- so we expect things to be bitter and sad in a novel set in the buildup to WW II. I find there's a certain refreshing reality in admitting that good things happen, too.