Summary and book reviews of April In Paris by Michael Wallner

April In Paris

By Michael Wallner

April In Paris
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  • Hardcover: May 2007,
    248 pages.
    Paperback: Apr 2008,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

Set in 1943, April In Paris is the dramatic story of an impossible love between a German soldier and a French Resistance fighter in occupied Paris.

Roth, a twenty-one-year-old German soldier, has spent most of his time in occupied Paris working in the army's back offices. But when his superiors learn of his ability to speak accent-free French, he is abruptly transferred to Gestapo headquarters to work as an interpreter during the interrogation of Resistance fighters. Rather than question his role in the Nazi regime, Roth translates with impeccable accuracy as the torture proceeds.

But when his duty ends, Roth slips away from his fellow officers, changes into civilian clothes, and wanders aimlessly through Paris disguised as his alter ego "Antoine." One day he is drawn into an antiquarian bookshop and becomes enchanted with the bookseller's beautiful daughter, Chantal. The two begin to meet and fall in love before Roth has the courage to reveal his true identity, nor to discover Chantal's.

When a bomb placed in a popular nightclub by the Resistance kills several high-ranking German officers, Roth finds himself not in his role as translator but as the suspect of the SS's interrogation.

April in Paris is one of those rare books in which the emotional force of the love story is matched by page-turning suspense. Written in an elegant and arresting style, it is a thrilling novel by a promising new writer, who has brought the reality of a war-torn past very much to the present.

Chapter 1

I learned about the transfer before noon. The small stripes of light had reached the windowsill. My major came in and kept one hand on the doorknob while gesturing to me with the other to keep my seat. He wanted to know if the hogwash from Marseille was ready yet. I pointed to the half–written sheet still in the typewriter. I could go when I reached the end of the page, he said.

"And the dispatch from Lagny–sur–Marne?" I asked, surprised.

"Someone else will have to do it. You're needed elsewhere."

I pressed my knees together under the table. In those days, many people were being sent to the front.

"I'm being reassigned?"

"Rue des Saussaies has lost a translator." The major ran his hand down the left side of his uniform coat. German Horseman's Badge, War Merit Cross. He said he'd do all he could to get me back. I shouldn't worry, he said; my transfer would be only temporary.

"What happened...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About This Guide

"Touching [and] thrilling. . . . An impressive debut." - USA Today

The introduction, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to stimulate your group's discussion of April in Paris, Michael Wallner's gripping novel about love and deception in Nazi-occupied Paris.


About This Book

What happens when a young translator for the Nazi SS in occupied Paris decides he wants to spend his off-hours blending in with the locals, gives himself a French identity, and falls in love with a beautiful resistance fighter? This intriguing question is the premise for Michael Wallner's extraordinary first novel, April in Paris.

Roth is a 21-year-old translator who ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Life and love are both battlefields in Wallner's anguished debut of wartime suspense, translated from German, which quickly embroils the reader in the tragic double-life of 22-year-old Corporal Roth.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

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Media Reviews
New York Times - Joseph Finder

The result is a piece of period entertainment that is satisfying if not entirely successful. April in Paris lacks the gravitas of, say, Bernhard Schlink's novel The Reader. And it doesn’t achieve the dark foreboding found in the work of Kanon and Furst. Like its protagonist, adrift between two worlds, it can’t quite decide what it wants to be.

Booklist - Sarah Johnson

Wallner rises above this overused plotline with his stylish, readable language (with just enough French to convey atmosphere); lovingly depicted Parisian setting; and well-done characterizations. Think Alan Furst with a different sort of hero, and a darker, more visceral edge.

Publishers Weekly

Wallner's harrowing debut, a love story of sorts though there's little romance, rings with authenticity.

Library Journal - Bette-Lee Fox

Actor/screenwriter Wallner describes occupied Paris with all the detail and clarity of a spring day. Recommended for all fiction collections.

Nürnberger Nachrichten - Harald Loch

A remarkable story that could only play out in an occupied Paris torn between poetry and drama, and love and death… an enthralling blend of gravity and suspense.

Lesart - Monika Melcher

April in Paris is a thrilling read . . . Michael Wallner writes with great delicacy . . . deftly creating an atmosphere full of suspense.

Frankfurter Neue Presse

April in Paris is a majestic novel ... [Wallner] has perfectly captured the language of the era, and explored the moral dilemma of an apolitical soldier torn between obedience and sentiment.

Brigitte Magazine

A cross between Ken Follet and The Reader by Bernard Schlink ... April in Paris is a book to share with friends: a love story for men who don't usually cry.

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Beyond the Book

A short history of the French Resistance
France capitulated to Germany on June 25 1940 and was divided into three key zones: A German occupation zone in the north and west, a small Italian occupation zone in the southeast and unoccupied collaborationist "Vichy France" in the south (map). The French Army was disbanded except for a small force to keep domestic peace, and the French government agreed to stop members of its armed forces leaving the country and to instruct its citizens not to resist.
...

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