Summary and book reviews of The Foreign Correspondent by Alan Furst

The Foreign Correspondent

A Novel

By Alan Furst

The Foreign Correspondent
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  • Hardcover: May 2006,
    288 pages.
    Paperback: May 2007,
    288 pages.

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Book Summary

From Alan Furst, whom The New York Times calls “America’s preeminent spy novelist,” comes an epic story of romantic love, love of country, and love of freedom–the story of a secret war fought in elegant hotel bars and first-class railway cars, in the mountains of Spain and the backstreets of Berlin. It is an inspiring, thrilling saga of everyday people forced by their hearts’ passion to fight in the war against tyranny.

By 1938, hundreds of Italian intellectuals, lawyers and journalists, university professors and scientists had escaped Mussolini’s fascist government and taken refuge in Paris. There, amid the struggles of émigré life, they founded an Italian resistance, with an underground press that smuggled news and encouragement back to Italy. Fighting fascism with typewriters, they produced 512 clandestine newspapers. The Foreign Correspondent is their story.

Paris, a winter night in 1938: a murder/suicide at a discreet lovers’ hotel. But this is no romantic traged–it is the work of the OVRA, Mussolini’s fascist secret police, and is meant to eliminate the editor of Liberazione, a clandestine émigré newspaper. Carlo Weisz, who has fled from Trieste and secured a job as a foreign correspondent with the Reuters bureau, becomes the new editor.
Weisz is, at that moment, in Spain, reporting on the last campaign of the Spanish civil war. But as soon as he returns to Paris, he is pursued by the French Sûreté, by agents of the OVRA, and by officers of the British Secret Intelligence Service. In the desperate politics of Europe on the edge of war, a foreign correspondent is a pawn, worth surveillance, or blackmail, or murder.

The Foreign Correspondent is the story of Carlo Weisz and a handful of antifascists: the army officer known as “Colonel Ferrara,” who fights for a lost cause in Spain; Arturo Salamone, the shrewd leader of a resistance group in Paris; and Christa von Schirren, the woman who becomes the love of Weisz’s life, herself involved in a doomed resistance underground in Berlin.

The Foreign Correspondent is Alan Furst at his absolute best–taut and powerful, enigmatic and romantic, with sharp, seductive writing that takes the reader through darkness and intrigue to a spectacular denouement.

In Paris, the last days of autumn; a gray, troubled sky at daybreak, the fall of twilight at noon, followed, at seven-thirty, by slanting rains and black umbrellas as the people of the city hurried home past the bare trees. On the third of December, 1938, in the heart of the Seventh Arrondissement, a champagne-colored Lancia sedan turned the corner of the rue Saint-Dominique and rolled to a stop in the rue Augereau. Then the man in the backseat leaned forward for a moment and the chauffeur drove a few feet further and stopped again, this time in the shadow between two streetlamps.

The man in the back of the Lancia was called Ettore, il conte Amandola--the nineteenth Ettore, Hector, in the Amandola line, and count only the grandest of his titles. Closer to sixty than fifty, he had dark, slightly bulging eyes, as though life had surprised him, though it had never dared to do that, and a pink flush along his cheekbones, which suggested a bottle of ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
The Globe & Mail

Smart enough and light enough and nothing you'd be embarrassed to be caught with on a blanket; in other words, just what you need in a beach date.

Library Journal

Furst's characters live in a gray world, confronted by monsters-and these monsters are winning.

Kirkus

Who knows why this stuff is so deeply satisfying? But it most surely is.

Publishers Weekly

Furst's reputation as one of today's best writers, in any genre, is further solidified by this gripping historical thriller

Booklist - Bill Ott

Starred Review. Furst serves another delicious helping of Paris suspended in a brief moment of time when everyone waited for something to happen, good or bad.

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Beyond the Book

Alan Furst has been compared to Graham Greene and Eric Ambler, and is considered by many to be the master of the historical spy novel. He is the author of Night Soldiers, Dark Star, The Polish Officer, The World at Night, Red Gold, Kingdom of Shadows and The Foreign Correspondent.

Furst describes the area of his interest as "near history." His novels are set between 1933 and 1945, from Adolf Hitler's ascent, with the first Stalinist purges in Moscow coming a year later, to the end of the war in Europe. Because the history of this period is so well ...

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