A Hero of France Summary & Study Guide

Alan Furst
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A Hero of France Summary & Study Guide Description

A Hero of France Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on A Hero of France by Alan Furst.

The following version of this book was used to create the guide: Furst, Alan. A Hero of France. Random House, 2016.

Alan Furst's historical spy novel, A Hero of France, takes place from March to July 1941, in France, with most chapters taking place in Paris and several others taking place in a wide variety of rural French towns. At this time in World War II, Germany has occupied France, meaning that, while many citizens continue to work their jobs or otherwise live a normal life, there are a layer of rules that the Germans have enforced on the French population, such as enforcing a curfew, rationing food, or mandating a blackout (no visible lights through windows) at a certain hour of night. German officers can be seen both cavorting about the city's nightclubs -- immune to the rules that they have placed on French citizens -- and also manning stringent checkpoints at all borders of the occupied territory.

A group of self-organized French citizens, called the Resistance, have taken it upon themselves to find and shelter British air pilots who have been shot down by German forces over French territory. Working illegally, the members of the Resistance find ways to smuggle the air pilots past the German checkpoints so that the pilots can return to Britain, and thus continue their duty of fighting against the German forces. The protagonist of this novel is a middle-aged man who operates under the pseudonym Mathieu while working in the Resistance, and he works frequently in concert with other members such as a teenage girl, Lisette, who works as a courier; a nightclub owner, Max de Lyon, who helps to bankroll the operation; and a café proprietor, Jules, who allows the members to meet in his café.

When we first see the Resistance in March, we see that they have already well-established their operation, as they work together to smuggle a British pilot out of France. In April, the operation begins to come under threat -- first, repeated attempts to smuggle an ace pilot from Poland go awry, and then a mysterious English man, Edouard, essentially confronts Mathieu with an ultimatum, offering significant funding in exchange for Mathieu also being willing to work for him. In May, a skilled German police detective, Otto Broehm, is moved to France and assigned to find and destroy the Resistance operation. Mathieu's first mission for Edouard -- ironically, involving smuggling bomb technicians into the country -- goes awry, with the technicians killing two German sentries at a rural checkpoint.

In June, Broehm recruits a Serbian prisoner, Stefan Kusar, to be his secret agent to infiltrate the Resistance. While Mathieu is wary of Kusar, he nonetheless sends Kusar on a trial mission with the versatile Resistance member Chantal in July -- but Chantal becomes overwhelmingly suspicious when she happens to see Kusar digging through her personal bag. Sensing that the operation is under attack, Mathieu concocts a plan where Chantal is smuggled into Switzerland (neutral territory). As the other members of the Resistance cleverly erase any clues that connects them to the illegal operation, Mathieu is flown out of the country entirely, and is seen back in France living a normal life in 1944.

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