Excerpt from Mission to Paris by Alan Furst, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Mission to Paris

A Novel

By Alan Furst

Mission to Paris
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Hardcover: Jun 2012,
    272 pages.
    Paperback: Jun 2013,
    272 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Karen Rigby

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


"Oh who cares - they're always squabbling over something. You can't go to Spain, 'cause there's a war there, you know. Otherwise I expect the castles are all open, and the restaurants."

He could hear approaching footsteps on the iron deck, then a ship's officer flicked a flashlight beam over them, touched the brim of his cap and said, "Bonsoir, Madame, Monsieur."

"What's it called, your movie?"

"Après la Guerre. That would be After the War, in English. It takes place in 1918, at the end of the war."

"Will it play in Bryn Mawr?"

"Maybe it will. I hope so."

"Well, we can always go to Philadelphia to see it, if we have to."

It was true that he'd "wandered about the world." The phrase suggested romance and adventure - something like that had appeared in a Warner Bros. publicity bio - but it didn't tell the whole story. In fact, he'd run away to sea at the age of sixteen. He was also not really "Fredric Stahl," had been born Franz Stalka, forty years earlier in Vienna, to a Slovenian father and an Austrian mother of solidly bourgeois families resident in Austria- Hungary for generations. His father was beyond strict; the rigid, fearsome lord of the family, a tyrant with a face like an angry prune. Thus Stahl grew up in a world of rules and punishments - there was hardly a moment in his early life when he wasn't in trouble for doing something wrong. He had two older brothers, obedient little gentlemen and utterly servile - "Yes, papa," "As you wish, papa" - who studied for hours and did well in private academies. He had also a younger sister, Klara, and if he was the bad boy of the family, she was the angel and Stahl adored her. A beautiful little angel, with her mother's good looks. Inherited, as well, by the boy who would become an actor and take a new name.

It was said of him by those who made a living in the business of faces and bodies that he was "a very masculine actor." Stahl wasn't sure precisely what they meant, but he knew they were rich and not for nothing. It referred, he suspected, to a certain inner confidence, expressed by, among other things, a low- pitched voice - assurance, not just a bass register - from an actor who always sounded "quiet" no matter how loudly he spoke. He could play the sympathetic lawyer, the kind aristocrat, the saintly husband, the comforting doctor, or the good lover - the knight not the gigolo.

His hair was dark, combed back from a high, noble forehead which rose from deep- set eyes. Cold gray eyes - the gray was cold, the eyes were warm: receptive and expressive. Just enough gray in those eyes for black- and- white film, and even better - it turned out to his great relief - in technicolor. His posture was relaxed - hands in pockets for Stahl was not a weak gesture - and his physique appropriate for the parts he played. He'd been scrawny as a boy but two years as an Ordinary Seaman, scraping rust, painting decks, had put just enough muscle on him so he could be fi lmed wearing a bathing suit. He couldn't punch another man, he wasn't Clark Gable, and he couldn't fi ght a duel, he was not Errol Flynn. But neither was he Charles Boyer - he wasn't so sophisticated. Mostly he played a warm man in a cold world. And, if all his movies were taken together, Fredric Stahl was not somebody you knew, but somebody you would very much like to know. In fact he was good at his profession - had two Oscar nominations, one for Supporting Actor, the other for the lead in Summer Storm - and very much in control of gesture and tone but, beyond skill, he had the single, inexplicable quality of the star actor or actress. When he was on screen, you couldn't take your eyes off him. Stahl shifted slightly in the deck chair, the damp was beginning to reach him and he had to suppress a shiver. And, he sensed, the weather was turning - sometimes the ship's bow hit the oncoming wave with a loud smack. "We might just have a storm," he said. It was, he thought, time to get Iris back where she belonged, the cuddling had devloped a certain familiar edge.

Excerpted from Mission to Paris by Alan Furst. Copyright © 2012 by Alan Furst. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Parisian Highlights

Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    •  
    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    •  
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    •  
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    •  
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    •  
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    •  
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
    •  
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...
  • Book Jacket
    Mrs. Hemingway
    by Naomi Wood
    Naomi Wood's latest novel, Mrs. Hemingway, is a fictionalized biography covering in turn writer...
  • Book Jacket
    The Stranger on the Train
    by Abbie Taylor
    The opening chapter of Abbie Taylor's debut novel, The Stranger on the Train, took me right back to ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your
horizons.

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

The City
by Dean Koontz

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

  1.  93Tomlinson Hill:
    Chris Tomlinson

All Discussions

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.