April in Paris
By Michael Wallner
(Nan A. Talese, Hardcover, 9780385519144, 256pp.)
Publication Date: April 3, 2007
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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.
MICHAEL WALLNER is an actor and screenwriter. He lives in Germany and divides his time between Berlin and the Black Forest, and is at work on his next novel.
"Michael Wallner is capable of writing with spare elegance, and he evokes war-ravaged Paris with a deft touch. This is the tale of a young German soldier serving with the forces of the Nazi occupation who becomes entangled with a Frenchwoman--the sort of love affair that's inevitably called 'doomed.'"
--The New York Times Book Review
"This fast-paced thriller about a young man's unforeseen moral dilemma delivers suspense all the way through to its unexpected ending....Think Alan Furst with a different sort of hero, and a darker, more visceral edge."
“April in Paris is a thrilling read . . . Michael Wallner writes with great delicacy . . . deftly creating an atmosphere full of suspense.”
—Monika Melcher, Lesart
“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.”
—Harald Loch, Nürnberger Nachrichten
“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.”
—Frankfurter Neue Presse
“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.”