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The Flight Portfolio

Written by: Julie Orringer
Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerini
Length: 19 hrs and 29 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Publisher's Summary

The long-awaited new work from the best-selling author of The Invisible Bridge takes us back to occupied Europe in this gripping historical novel based on the true story of Varian Fry's extraordinary attempt to save the work, and the lives, of Jewish artists fleeing the Holocaust 

In 1940, Varian Fry - a Harvard-educated American journalist - traveled to Marseille carrying $3,000 and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to rescue within a few weeks. Instead, he ended up staying in France for 13 months, working under the veil of a legitimate relief organization to procure false documents, amass emergency funds, and set up an underground railroad that led over the Pyrenees, into Spain, and finally to Lisbon, where the refugees embarked for safer ports. Among his many clients were Hannah Arendt, Franz Werfel, Andre Breton, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Marc Chagall. 

The Flight Portfolio opens at the Chagalls' ancient stone house in Gordes, France, as the novel's hero desperately tries to persuade them of the barbarism and tragedy descending on Europe. Masterfully crafted, exquisitely written, impossible to pause, this is historical fiction of the very first order, and resounding confirmation of Orringer's gifts as a novelist.

©2019 Julia Orringer (P)2019 Recorded Books

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  • nancy london
  • 2019-07-19

fiction? nonfiction?

I was half way through this novel when I read a review online that noted the fact that the author took great liberties with her character Varian Fry, an historical figure responsible for saving thousands of lives in Vichy France from 1940-41. She gave him a fictional homosexual lover, and killed off a few fictional artists that I originally grieved the loss of, until I learned they had never existed. It's a gripping novel, not a biography, full of cat and mouse rescues and the best forgers in France, but doesn't do Mr. Fry justice by tampering with the facts. Wasn't he heroic enough? Many of the subplots that engage the reader turn out to be fiction and I was ultimately disappointed despite the brilliant narration. Nineteen hours of listening...wore me out.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • william
  • 2019-07-18

Such a disappointment

The introduction of Marc Chagall in the beginning of the book led me to believe this novel would focus on important aspects of history and not something else. Unfortunately this was a romance and important historical information was given short shrift if any attention. It seemed the author threw names of important people into her story to mislead the reader into thinking something of substance was forthcoming—you just had to be patient, E.g Hannah Arendt

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Dian_uh
  • 2019-06-30

Disappointing

The premise seemed intriguing. And, I really enjoy Edoardo Ballerini as a narrator - he has a great storytelling voice. However, I still could not get into this story after 3+ hours into it. I wanted to hear more about the artists than the romantic relations of Varian and Grant.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Sylvia
  • 2019-07-08

What could have been....

The Invisible Bridge is one of my favorite books. I was thrilled when Portfolio showed up on Audible and grabbed it right away. I had to stop an hour or so into the audiobook. Tried again later, on and on, until I gave up completely. Something is very very wrong when Europe’s most vibrant artists are reduced to bit players while bickering lovers constantly whine and complain about who treated who worse. I don’t care if Varian Fry was gay or bi- or half black or whatever, I just couldn’t stand the constant mewling about it. Sure, good-doers have their own personal feelings and issues while going about their work and that doesn’t make them less heroic, just human. But it is not a plot equivalent to the extraordinary power to decide whose life is most worth saving and doing so again and again while dodging the murderous Nazi regime. (The real Varian Fry network is credited with saving thousands escape certain death.) Portfolio could have been a wonderful follow-up to Bridges but instead Orringer diminished her second novel to a wearying soap opera. Two stars for the brief glimpses of what could have been.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Michele
  • 2019-05-26

Horrible book

Insulting to the millions who died in WWII. Begging elites like Chagall to leave France when they were so narcissistic they thought
their status would protect them. The whole premise these elites were more deserving of being saved was disgusting. Couldn’t finish this piece of trivial trash. Sorry I wasted a credit on it.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • 2019-08-29

One of the best books ever

Elegantly written, intriguing story with historical frame. I truly loved this book, and rank it amongst my favorites. I loved the author’s earlier novel The Invisible Bridge and found this one even more enthralling. There are some rich scenes throughout the work. The author writes like she is painting in vivid color and you are transported. I hope the next work from Julie Orringer is in the works. I’m waiting anxiously! The narration was also lyrically delivered and I’ll be out looking for something more from him as well. I could listen to that voice forever! Bravo!

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  • bookworman55
  • 2019-07-28

Wordy and overwrought

I am drawn to stories of WWII and the Nazi and Axis atrocities towards Jews and undesirables. It was a time of incomprehensible inhumanity. The basis of this story is a good one but the extreme focus on Mr. Fry and his homosexual romance took away from the plot, not to mention Mr. Fry’s character whining about his lover. Also too long. I haven’t read any of the author’s prior works and chose it because of the description on Audible of the aforementioned interest I have in Holocaust subject matter but this book’s main attention was given to the romance between Grant and Fry. Not what I wanted.

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  • Johnny Kibler
  • 2019-07-05

Loved this book.

So not what I was expecting. A closeted gay romance in occupied France and saving Surrealists from the Nazis. The story and characters are riveting. I couldn’t put it down. A beautiful evocation of a time and place.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • S Sims
  • 2019-07-04

A stunning, mesmerizing experience to listen to.

I found Julie Orringer’s story of Varian Fry fascinating, mesmerizing and tragic. Listening on audible allowed me to rewind and absorb the beautiful language and sink into the experience again. Edoardo Ballerini’s voice disappeared into countless people seamlessly. A masterful retelling of Varian Fry’s accomplishments to save lives during the chaos of WWII.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Elliott
  • 2019-05-15

Compassionate Rescuer

A compassionate American rescues Jews and anti-Nazis from Vichy France prior to America's entry into WW II. Personal stories are deftly interwoven as escapes are described in

1 of 2 people found this review helpful