2013: The Foreign Correspondent

"In Paris, the last days of autumn; a gray, troubled sky at daybreak, the fall of twilight at noo, followed, at seven-thirty, by slanting rains and black umbrellas as the people of the city hurried home past the bare trees."

The Foreign Correspondent, Alan Furst

This entry marks a new series - awesome books lent to me by my awesome friend, Misha.  Not only is he a crackerjack lawyer and all-around nice guy, but it turns out he has awesome tastes in literature, so keep your eye out for other Misha-approved books.*

Alan Furst writes spy novels.  All the ones I've read are set in the past - during World War II, or the Cold War.  They are excellent - I mean, I've never been a spy, so maybe it's all hogwash, but they certainly seem authentic to me.  Which is to say, life is pretty horrible and dark, with some amazing flashes of humanity weaved throughout.  Furst reminds me of Le Carre, which is high praise indeed, given as I was raised to believe that Le Carre is the finest spy writer in history.  Another way to put it is that my dad would love this book - and yours probably would, too.  

This is actually the second book by Furst that Misha lent me - the other one was back in the mists of time when I wasn't blogging, and I can't remember exactly which one it was - one quibble I have with Mr. Furst is that his titles all sound the same (maybe Night Soldiers? Dark Voyage? Kingdom of Shadows? See what I mean?).  The other one was about a spy who grew up in the Balkans somewhere and then moved to Moscow, and then eventually drifted West.  That one was good, but it took me a while to get into and figure out what was going on.  The Foreign Correspondent, however, had me from about page one.  It's about a bunch of Italian exiles in France in the late 1930's (before the war), who are writing a secret newspaper that mocks and challenges Mussolini, which they then sneak back into Italy.  It's very illegal in Italy and if they -or their distribution network - gets caught, there will be trouble.  One member of the group is the titular foreign correspondent, who now works for Reuters in Paris, and it is he who we follow through the novel, as he goes from Italian gadfly to something more.  I obviously don't want to say too much more - one of the treats of books like this is the plot, but it's great.  I left this wanting to read much more Furst,** and I suspect you will, too.  The plotting is terrific, but what really sells it, and what makes his other books so great is the atmospherics.  He is so great at capturing the tension of living in one of these places where the shit has hit the fan - where bad times are crowding in.  Highly recommended.

*Especially if you are a guy reading this blog.  Though, I think Misha himself might be the only male who reads it, so that's no good.  Still, his tastes inject a nice little Y-chromesome into what can be a sort of girly-blog (says the woman who read and reviewed the entire oeuvre of L.M. Montgomery.).  P.S. if you are a boy other than Misha, leave a comment!!

**And actually, I am reading more Furst, thanks again to Misha, so watch this space!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017