WHY: “Brilliantly conceived, impeccably crafted, and showcasing Julie Orringer’s extraordinary gifts, this is destined to become a classic.
“This magnificent novel is centered around American journalist Varian Fry’s work helping imperiled refugees out of Nazi-occupied France. In 1940, Fry leaves his wife and job behind in New York and travels to Marseille for the Emergency Rescue Committee, formed to get prominent intellectuals and creative artists safely to America. Faced with meager resources, an enormous task, and suspicion from both the Vichy and U.S. governments, Fry makes anguished decisions about which ‘clients’ to help and which to leave in danger.
“Then he is contacted by his one-time Harvard classmate Elliott Schiffman Grant, with whom he shared an intense mutual attraction. ‘Skiff,’ who vanished from Fry’s life without explanation 12 years before, wants helps getting his German-born Jewish lover, Gregor Katznelson, and Katznelson’s son out of Europe. Fry falls in love with Grant again as he makes increasingly high-stakes decisions about who, and what, to save.
“As in 2010’s superb The Invisible Bridge, Orringer seamlessly combines compelling inventions with complex fact: figures including Marc Chagall and Andre Breton make vivid appearances, while Skiff and his relationship with Fry are unforgettable fictional creations.” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, in a boxed and starred review
“An accomplished storyteller at work. An elegant, meditative novelistic reconstruction of critical years in the life of Varian Fry…Altogether satisfying. Mix Alan Furst and Andre Aciman, and you’ll have a feel for this territory in which this well-plotted book falls.”
—KIRKUS, a starred review
“A gripping novel. Orringer is a beautiful prose stylist who captures depth of meaning about complex human issues, and she addresses head-on the moral dilemma of making value judgments on individual lives.” —Sarah Johnson, BOOKLIST