Suzanne Ruta
June 14, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The World at Night

Current Status
In Season
Alan Furst
Historical Fiction, Fiction

We gave it a B

Ah, Paris in springtime. Chestnuts in blossom. Nazi tanks on the Champs-Elysees. What is the enduring appeal of 1940 France? Why does it soften the brain of accomplished novelists like Alan Furst (Dark Star)? His latest hero in The World at Night, Jean-Claude Casson, is all Gaul, a dashing movie producer who cherishes food, wine, and women. Though Furst mines history for colorful episodes (a plane crashes on a stylish Right Bank street; con men scam British intelligence out of large sums), Casson’s ersatz existentialism and thwarted passion for a soulful actress rehash 50 years’ worth of novels and films, notably Marcel Carne’s masterpiece Children of Paradise. First see the movie; then read Furst’s book, best enjoyed as homage to Carne and company. B

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