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Book Review: The Flight Portfolio

May 30, 2019

Well, this week's book was a bit of a doozy! Not content wise (content wise it was amazing) but in length! This week's book clocked in at a rather large 550+ pages! Which was a struggle to read all in one week!

 

Luckily for all of you, I managed to do! It really was a great book (it didn't feel like I was reading almost 600 pages), and recommend by the Book of the Month Club!

 

If you need a refresher about why I do a weekly book review, check it out here!

 

So, with no more ado, here is my review for The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer!

 Keeping with the WWII vibe of last week, The Flight Portfolio begins when Varian Fry, an American government employee, arrives in Marseilles, France with the mission to rescue artists and writers being persecuted by the German Nazis. 

 

His goal is to secure papers, and escape routes, to get the people on his list safely to America. But, things are getting more difficult now that the Germans have invaded France and are making the French government cooperate.

 

Soon, an old college friend of Varian's, Elliot Grant, shows up in Marseilles, seeking Varian's help. 

 

Grant's friend, and lover's, son is stranded in France, and being pursued by the German Government for his know-how in physics. 

 

Varian agrees to help, and keeps smuggling people out. But, the border to Spain is soon shut down, and Varian must find new ways to help people escape from France. With the help of a forger, and an American socialite, soon, Varian is able to get more people out.

 

Soon, Varian and Grant resume the relationship they had in college, despite Varian having a wife back in the States. 

 

Word soon arrives that Tobias, the son of Grant's friend, has been found in a concentration camp. They are able to help him escape, and set him up in their safe house.

 

As the French govrnment, pressured by the German government, begins to raid the safe house, Varian knows he has to save Tobias. He sets him up on a boat, replacing Lev Zilberman, a well-known artist.

 

Tobias escapes, but Lev is captured and shipped back to German, where he unfortunately die. He tells Varian that Tobias was a nobody back in Germany, causing Varian to accuse Grant of lying, ending their relationship.

 

Varian is soon deported from France, as the German government has finally caught up with his not always legal practices. He is shipped to Spain, and then the States, but not before ensuring people will continue his efforts.

 

Varian returns home and confronts Grant's friend, realizing he had lied about Tobias instead of Grant. He goes back to Grant to make amends and the pair discuss what their future would look like.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I love books based on real people, and I found Varian's story amazing! He is a huge part of U.S. history that never gets talked about or acknowledged. I'm glad he's getting recognition now for what he did!

 

From a stylistic view point, I found the writing gorgeous. Not being overly flowerly, I still found Orringer's writing to be elegant and evocative. The reader is truly able to feel Varian's pain when he fails a client, or when he believes Grant lied to him. Orringer is able to place you directly into France and allows you to feel the pressure and fear of Varian and his compatriots. 

 

My only complaint was that it was a very long novel, and I can't even be upset about it because I loved reading this book! As I said before, it did not feel like a long book while I was reading it! Orringer was able to bring an unknown hero to life, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Varian and what he did!

 

I give The Flight Portfolio by Julie Orringer a whole-hearted 5 out of 5!

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