The Flight Portfolio: Book summary and reviews of The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer

The Flight Portfolio

by Julie Orringer

The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer X
The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer
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  • Published in USA  May 2019
    576 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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Book Summary

The long-awaited new work from the best-selling author of The Invisible Bridge takes us back to occupied Europe in this gripping historical novel based on the true story of Varian Fry's extraordinary attempt to save the work, and the lives, of Jewish artists fleeing the Holocaust.

In 1940, Varian Fry - a Harvard educated American journalist - traveled to Marseille carrying three thousand dollars and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to rescue within a few weeks. Instead, he ended up staying in France for thirteen months, working under the veil of a legitimate relief organization to procure false documents, amass emergency funds, and set up an underground railroad that led over the Pyrenees, into Spain, and finally to Lisbon, where the refugees embarked for safer ports. Among his many clients were Hannah Arendt, Franz Werfel, André Breton, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Marc Chagall.

The Flight Portfolio opens at the Chagalls' ancient stone house in Gordes, France, as the novel's hero desperately tries to persuade them of the barbarism and tragedy descending on Europe. Masterfully crafted, exquisitely written, impossible to put down, this is historical fiction of the very first order, and resounding confirmation of Orringer's gifts as a novelist.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Altogether satisfying. Mix Alan Furst and André Aciman, and you'll have a feel for the territory in which this well-plotted book falls." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Brilliantly conceived, impeccably crafted, and showcasing Orringer's extraordinary gifts, this is destined to become a classic." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Ultimately Orringer crafts a vivid portrait of wartime Marseille, its innate sophistication darkened by Nazi oppression, and of Fry's heroic real-life accomplishments." - Booklist

"Varian Fry lit a small, bright lamp in a world of darkness, and in the deft hands of Julie Orringer—under the spell of her masterful prose, her feeling portraiture, her classic spy-thriller plotting and her vivid recreation of that beautiful and terrible world—I found the radiance of Fry's courage, flawed humanity, and steadfast resistance shedding an inexhaustible light on our own ever-darkening time." - Michael Chabon

"No book this year could possibly compare with The Flight Portfolio: ambitious, meticulous, big-hearted, gorgeous, historical, suspenseful, everything you want a novel to be." - Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Less

"A historical novel absolutely relevant to our own time, The Flight Portfolio brings to life a hero as complex and engrossing as the agonizing ethical questions he faces. Orringer not only recreates the world of wartime Marseille, but seems to drop the reader there by way of a masterfully fashioned literary trapdoor--and anyone who picks up this spectacular novel risks a swift descent into its vivid and consuming swirl." - Nell Freudenberger

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Author Information

Julie Orringer

Julie Orringer is the author of the award-winning short-story collection How to Breathe Underwater, which was a New York Times Notable Book. She is the winner of The Paris Review's Discovery Prize and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Stanford University, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is researching a new novel.

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