Review 2126: The Flight Portfolio

As soon as I finished reading Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge, I looked to see what else she had written, and that’s how I found The Flight Portfolio. This novel is based on true events with real historical characters except for Elliott Grant and some main invented characters.

It’s 1940, and American journalist Varian Fry is working in Marseille as the head of a charitable organization. Its mission is to help as many European artists, writers, and other intellectuals as it can to leave Europe and escape the Nazis. This mission is supposed to be legal but of course Fry has to use illegal means to evacuate people sought by the Nazis or by the Vichy government. The book begins with him trying to persuade the Chagalls to leave, but they think they are unassailable.

Into the chaos of the office work, including the eviction of the charity, comes a request for a meeting. It is from Varian’s old schoolmate at Harvard, in fact his ex-lover, Elliott Grant, who disappeared when Varian decided to pursue marriage and a normal life. Grant has come to ask Varian’s help in finding the son of his own lover, Professor Gregor Katznelson, a brilliant nuclear physicist who is somewhere in Europe trying to evade the Nazis.

While Varian works hard trying to get exit papers and arrange routes of escape, his relationship with Grant rekindles. He is forced to face his old decision and determine whether he wants to continue hiding his real self. His office faces searches and arrests, closures of escape routes, arrangements made only for clients to refuse to leave, blockages by government officials, and other obstacles.

The novel is riveting. Orringer is not only an excellent writer but a great story teller. I love it when I discover someone who is this good.

Related Posts

The Invisible Bridge

Down Below

Dark Palace


2 thoughts on “Review 2126: The Flight Portfolio

  1. Naomi March 5, 2023 / 7:18 pm

    I’ll have to read this! I loved her first book.

    • whatmeread March 5, 2023 / 7:22 pm

      So did I! I loved this one, too!

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