The world at night : a novel

by Alan Furst

Paper Book, 2002

Status

Available

Genres

Publication

New York : Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2002.

Description

"Paris, 1940. The civilized, upper-class life of film producer Jean Casson is derailed by the German occupation of Paris, but Casson learns that with enough money, compromise, and connections, one need not deny oneself the pleasures of Parisian life. Somewhere inside Casson, though, is a stubborn romantic streak. When he's offered the chance to take part in an operation of the British secret service, this idealism gives him the courage to say yes. A simple mission, but it goes wrong, and Casson realizes he must gamble everything--his career, the woman he loves, life itself. Here is a brilliant re-creation of France--its spirit in the moment of defeat, its valor in the moment of rebirth."--Cover p. [4].

User reviews

LibraryThing member wortklauberlein
Not my favorite of Alan Furst's World War II spy novels, possibly because the protagonist is less sympathetic, it's never clear exactly what his missions are and what the competing German and British intelligence agents he works with/against are attempting to accomplish. It also lacks some of the fine detail of Furst's other novels that take the reader into the tense lives of ordinary people in an incredible time.… (more)
LibraryThing member RichardWise
This is, perhaps, my favorite of Alan Furst's masterpieces of WWII fiction. It traces the story of Khristo Stoianev, a Bulgarian peasant, as fate shoves him from his remote village along the Danube to a KGB training camp in Moscow to revolutionary Spain and from there to Paris.

His journey is the journey from Facism to Communism and finally to a sort of redemption. Along the way he finds himself fighting in all the major theaters of the European war and we see how it develops throug...more This is, perhaps, my favorite of Alan Furst's masterpieces of WWII fiction. It traces the story of Khristo Stoianev, a Bulgarian peasant, as fate shoves him from his remote village along the Danube to a KGB training camp in Moscow to revolutionary Spain and from there to Paris.

His journey is the journey from Facism to Communism and finally to a sort of redemption. Along the way he finds himself fighting in all the major theaters of the European war and we see how it develops through his eyes.

A must, must read for anyone interested in WWII.
… (more)
LibraryThing member maggie1944
Alan Furst's WW II novels do not fail to please me. Atmospheric, and steeped in the melancholy of ordinary people coping with the necessities of living in an environment of occupation by an alien nation. In this book, Mr. Furst does not dwell on the ugliness, just notes it, and moves on to explore how to work around it and just live your life. Many fine sketches of Paris in the 1930s and 1940s.… (more)
LibraryThing member name99
The usual Alan Furst: WWII occupied France, an everyday man asked to perform dangerous, but ultimately minor tasks that probably have no effect on the outcome one way or the other.

Not his best work, but even weak Alan Furst is better than most writers in this genre.
LibraryThing member jan.fleming
Synopsis
Paris, 1940. The civilized, upper-class life of film producer Jean Casson is derailed by the German occupation of Paris, but Casson learns that with enough money, compromise, and connections, one need not deny oneself the pleasures of Parisian life. Somewhere inside Casson, though, is a stubborn romantic streak. When he’s offered the chance to take part in an operation of the British secret service, this idealism gives him the courage to say yes. A simple mission, but it goes wrong, and Casson realizes he must gamble everything—his career, the woman he loves, life itself. Here is a brilliant re-creation of France—its spirit in the moment of defeat, its valour in the moment of rebirth.

I am a new comer to Alan Furst's novels and to make it worse I am reading them in the wrong order! But I don’t think it really matters.

Good and evil; honour and loyalty...these aspects of the Parisian occupation are laid on the shoulders of this carefree, slightly dissolute, marginally successful film producer Jean Casson.

Casson initially reacts to the war by hoping it will all just go away but he's called up to join the French Army to repel the German invasion, which, which ends in a debacle. Later Jean Casson becomes entangled, albeit reluctantly, in the shady and dangerous world of espionage.

You really get the feel of how it must have been to be part of the French Resistance; Casson is scared, terrified, most of the time. Also he reignites an old flame an actress named Citrine, this romantic liaison adds another layer to the heady mix.

The real achievement of the author is showing the mundane, normal every day experiences like eating, drinking, working, loving against the backdrop of the terror of the occupation and this is what makes the book so "real."
… (more)
LibraryThing member ShellyS
I've read many books by Alan Furst -- and plan to read them all -- and have become addicted to the details he puts into his World War II-era novels set in Europe. Many of them, as does this one, is set in France, and this one focuses on Parisian Jean Claude Casson, a film producer who gets caught up in the affairs of war, resistance, and spycraft despite his best efforts to be left alone to work and love in the manner he did both before the Germans came.

This is the first of Furst's books to feature Casson; unfortunately, not realizing it at the time, I'd read the second one (Red Gold) years ago, and now, finally, have read this one. Despite knowing how it ends, this was an exciting read. First, recalled to active duty to fight the invading Germans, Casson spends a few harrowing weeks with a unit filming the war for newsreel footage. The French are overwhelmed, German occupation begins, and back in Paris, Casson is approached by contacts from the film industry, one who wants him to continue making movies and another who asks him to participate in a scheme against the Germans. Reluctantly, Casson agrees to both; the former reunites him with the actress he loves and the latter puts them both in danger.

The beauty of Furst's books is his ability to realistically recreate time and place, putting the reader into the story. I hope there's a third book featuring Casson because I really want to know what happens to him.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Olivermagnus
Rene Casson is a famous French film producer caught in Paris as the Germans take the city in 1940. He continues to think he can just avoid the ugliness of war by ignoring it. He only wants to continue to make his films and enjoy evenings with his close friends, many of whom share his sentiments about ignoring the war. When an acquaintance tries to recruit him into the Resistance, he refuses, but eventually becomes involved.

I expected to like this book much better than I did. I think I just had too high an expectation. I enjoyed the story, but Casson's reluctance to become involved and air of futility began to annoy me. I felt like he lived in his own little world, but I admit it was an interesting one, filled with fascinating French characters. His obsession with a former lover, Citrine, provided a lot a flashbacks to happier times. I like most of Furst's books but this wasn't my favorite. If you have never read a book by Alan Furst, I recommend Night Soldiers, The Polish Officer or The Spies of Warsaw.
… (more)
LibraryThing member elenchus
Jean Casson, a Parisian movie producer with a string of moderately successful dramas / thrillers under his belt, is caught up in daily survival after the Nazis storm Belgium and France in May 1940 and soon occupy Paris. We follow Casson as he adapts his social routines and business to the Occupation, increasingly forced to examine what's important to him, and precisely what he's prepared to sacrifice.

A sub-plot involves Casson's efforts to make a movie during the Occupation, working with UFA and wondering how much must change now that the Nazis are involved, what constitutes collaboration and what is, simply, making a movie in strange times. The whole effort serves as a commentary, both on Casson as a character, and intentionally or not, also on the reader of genre fiction such as the spy novel. Good stuff.

Much is made of Furst's atmospherics, often with a whiff of disdain. Were there nothing else to the novel, I could agree with the criticism. For me, though, The World At Night is a little tale, told with panache and a very comfortable sense of time & place, and much of this is deliberate. But knotted at the heart of this story is a sober glimpse of the moral (and sometimes, ethical) weight pulling at a life in conflict. Like Hitchcock, I think, the point is not to be dramatic or focus on the events of History. Rather, it is to examine the tensions and dilemmas of an ordinary person caught up in extraordinary circumstances, and from it glean something worth taking to heart. The agent / counter-agent business, Casson's collaboration with saboteurs, are very much a MacGuffin.

The ending was unexpected, as other reviews have mentioned, but I do not make too much of it. The turnabout came quickly, was handled in a few paragraphs, and the story was done. Primarily it was the speed of it that shocked. But it did not change the central problems facing Casson throughout the novel, and for that reason, I think, it is quite fitting.

NOTE: Furst mentioned in his Aug 09 Author Chat that this book marks his first use of what he termed the "existential novel", culminating in Kingdom Of Shadows. He implied the first three books took a different form, and that those following Kingdom Of Shadows similarly adopted a different overall literary approach. So while his novels are often mentioned as an informal series, Furst suggests there may be mini-serials within the set.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Olivermagnus
Rene Casson is a famous French film producer caught in Paris as the Germans take the city in 1940. He continues to think he can just avoid the ugliness of war by ignoring it. He only wants to continue to make his films and enjoy evenings with his close friends, many of whom share his sentiments about ignoring the war. When an acquaintance tries to recruit him into the Resistance, he refuses, but eventually becomes involved.

I expected to like this book much better than I did. I think I just had too high an expectation. I enjoyed the story, but Casson's reluctance to become involved and air of futility began to annoy me. I felt like he lived in his own little world, but I admit it was an interesting one, filled with fascinating French characters. His obsession with a former lover, Citrine, provided a lot a flashbacks to happier times. I like most of Furst's books but this wasn't my favorite. If you have never read a book by Alan Furst, I recommend Night Soldiers, The Polish Officer or The Spies of Warsaw.
… (more)
LibraryThing member jimgysin
Another solid Furst outing that had me thinking that I was right there in Paris in 1940. This time around, the story centers around a Paris film producer who shows that he's more noble than he probably gives himself credit for being. First he is called in to the war effort as a documentary filmmaker so that he can (in retrospect, of course) document France's near-instant defeat (this is France we're talking about, after all), and then he slowly gets pulled into the spy game as he finds himself unable to pretend to be blind to things happening around him. The characters here are once again terrific, and Furst continues to be so unbelievably good at making it possible for me to almost transport myself into every scene.… (more)
LibraryThing member msaucier818
Another solid entry in Alan Furst's Night Soldiers series. This novel follows a movie producer in France who has to deal with the German invasion and occupation. His story takes him through possibly being a spy for both sides, and as always, a Furst novel is mostly about the character building. I am always impressed by Furst's ability to make the reader feel like he is living in World War II Europe. Great series.… (more)
LibraryThing member jan.fleming
Synopsis
Paris, 1940. The civilized, upper-class life of film producer Jean Casson is derailed by the German occupation of Paris, but Casson learns that with enough money, compromise, and connections, one need not deny oneself the pleasures of Parisian life. Somewhere inside Casson, though, is a stubborn romantic streak. When he’s offered the chance to take part in an operation of the British secret service, this idealism gives him the courage to say yes. A simple mission, but it goes wrong, and Casson realizes he must gamble everything—his career, the woman he loves, life itself. Here is a brilliant re-creation of France—its spirit in the moment of defeat, its valour in the moment of rebirth.

I am a new comer to Alan Furst's novels and to make it worse I am reading them in the wrong order! But I don’t think it really matters.

Good and evil; honour and loyalty...these aspects of the Parisian occupation are laid on the shoulders of this carefree, slightly dissolute, marginally successful film producer Jean Casson.

Casson initially reacts to the war by hoping it will all just go away but he's called up to join the French Army to repel the German invasion, which, which ends in a debacle. Later Jean Casson becomes entangled, albeit reluctantly, in the shady and dangerous world of espionage.

You really get the feel of how it must have been to be part of the French Resistance; Casson is scared, terrified, most of the time. Also he reignites an old flame an actress named Citrine, this romantic liaison adds another layer to the heady mix.

The real achievement of the author is showing the mundane, normal every day experiences like eating, drinking, working, loving against the backdrop of the terror of the occupation and this is what makes the book so "real."
… (more)

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