"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested." (Francis Bacon)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Red Gold

TITLE: Red Gold
AUTHOR: Alan Furst

Alan Furst is known for his meticulous research into the first years of World War II from the European perspective, mostly focused on the events that occurred in France. In this book, set in 1941-42, during the days of the French Resistance, Jean Casson, a French filmmaker, has been forced to live under an assumed name, unable to make a livelihood, barely able to afford his hotel room and enough food to survive day to day. The Germans have occupied France, and Paris has become a dangerous place for Casson, who had done some intelligence-related work in the past and is trying to stay out of the Gestapo's hands. Desperate, he's enlisted to help run arms to French Communists trying to drive out the Germans.

As with the other books I've read by Furst, this reads like a series of events in the life of the protagonist, starting with a pivotal moment, and ending at another, leaving the reader to imagine what comes next, even if the main character would continue to survive his next, unwritten adventure. What makes this book, as well as his others, so good, is how well he evokes time and place and puts the reader into the head of the characters, bringing to life their goals, fears, hopes, and quiet desperation.