The Flight Portfolio

A novel

Look inside
MARSEILLE, 1940. Varian Fry, a Harvard-educated journalist and editor, arrives in France. Recognizing the darkness descending over Europe, he and a group of like-minded New Yorkers formed the Emergency Rescue Committee, helping artists and writers escape from the Nazis and immigrate to the United States. Now, amid the chaos of World War II, and in defiance of restrictive U.S. immigration policies, Fry must procure false passports, secure visas, seek out escape routes through the Pyrenees and by sea, and make impossible decisions about who should be saved, all while under profound pressure—and in a state of irrevocable personal change. In this work of historical fiction—one that illuminates previously unexplored elements of Fry’s story, and has, since its publication, brought us new insight into his life—Julie Orringer has crafted a gripping tale of forbidden love, high-stakes adventure, and unimaginable courage.
 
“A gripping, tender novel.” —The New Yorker

“Magnificent . . . a deeply researched, almost unbearably tense, bruised-knuckle hybrid. Part real history and part love story, it’s also a deeply moral work, asking tough questions about what matters most to us personally—and to the world.” —The Boston Globe

“Sympathetic and prodigiously ambitious. . . . [Orringer’s] Marseille breathes as a city breathes.” —Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times Book Review

“Extraordinary. . . . Orringer has delivered a story with a splendid cast of characters and an intoxicating portrait of a time and place. . . . There’s suspense and tragedy, unexpected twists and deliverance.” —The Seattle Times
 
“Meticulous, bighearted, gorgeous, historical, suspenseful, everything you want a novel to be.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less
 
“Passionate and thoroughgoing. . . . [The Flight Portfolio] brings to light a truly inspiring episode in history.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“Varian Fry lit a small, bright lamp in a world of darkness, and in the deft hands of Julie Orringer—under the spell of her masterful prose, her feeling portraiture, her classic spy-thriller plotting, and her vivid re-creation of that beautiful and terrible world—I found the radiance of Fry’s courage, flawed humanity, and steadfast resistance shedding an inexhaustible light on our own ever-darkening time.” —Michael Chabon, author of Moonglow
 
“Magnificent. . . . Brilliantly conceived, impeccably crafted, and showcasing Orringer’s extraordinary gifts, this is destined to become a classic.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“The novel exudes atmosphere. . . . Through cinematically detailed descriptions [and] multilayered, nuanced characters both real and imagined, Orringer has breathed life into 1940 France. . . . The Flight Portfolio compellingly juxtaposes the conflicts and tragedies of a world at war with the equally compelling inner wars of the human soul.” —Pittsburg Post-Gazette
 
“Altogether satisfying. . . . An accomplished storyteller at work.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Thoughtful and absorbing. . . . Orringer is a meticulous researcher, and the novel’s cloak-and-dagger thrills keep the pace lively.” —BookPage
 
“Superb. . . . [The Flight Portfolio] will both warm and break your heart.” —Business Insider
 
“The novel seeks a kind of redress: restoring, to history’s vast panorama, a granular sense of how life on the borderlines of fascism feels . . . Orringer’s true subject, the moral peril of being alive, is a grandly timeless—and timely—one.” —T Magazine
 
“Gorgeous. . . . Classic storytelling through a transgressive lens. The Flight Portfolio offers a testament to . . . the enduring transformative power of art, and love, in any form.” —Entertainment Weekly
© Julie Orringer
JULIE ORRINGER is the New York Times best-selling author of two award-winning books: The Invisible Bridge, a novel, and How to Breathe Underwater, a collection of stories. Her latest book is The Flight Portfolio. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, the MacDowell Colony, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children. View titles by Julie Orringer
I
 
Gordes
 
There was, it turned out, no train to the village where the Chagalls lived: one of many complications he’d failed to anticipate. He had to pay a boy with a motorbike to run him up from the station at Cavail­lon, ten miles at a brainshaking pace along a narrow rutted road. On either side rose ochre hills striated with grapevines and lavender and olive trees; overhead, a blinding white-veined sky. The smell was of the boy’s leather jacket and of charred potatoes, exhalate of his clever homemade fuel. At the foot of the village the boy parked in a shadow, accepted Varian’s francs, and tore off into the distance before Varian could arrange a ride back.

The streets of Gordes, carved into a sunstruck limestone hill above the Luberon Valley, offered little in the way of shade. He would have given anything to be back in Marseille with a glass of Aperol before him, watching sailors and girls, gangsters and spice vendors, parading the Canebière. The Chagalls had only agreed to see him on the basis that he not bring up the prospect of their emigration. But what other subject was there? The Nazis had taken Paris months ago, they were burning books in the streets of Alsace, they could send any refugee over the border at will. At least the Chagalls had agreed; that was something. But as he reached the house, an ancient Catholic girls’ school on the rue de la Fontaine Basse, he found himself fighting the urge to flee. His credentials, if anyone examined them, amounted to a fanatic’s knowledge of European history, a desire to get out from behind his desk in New York, and a deep frustration with his isola­tionist nation. And yet this was his job; he’d volunteered for it. What was more, he believed he could do it. He raised his hand and knocked.

An eye appeared in the brass circlet of the peephole, and a girl in a striped apron opened the door. She listened, strangling her index finger with one dark curl, as he stated his name and mission. Then she ushered him down a corridor and out into a courtyard, where a stone path led to a triangle of shade. There, at a bare wooden table, Chagall and his wife sat at lunch: the painter in his smock, his hair swept back from his forehead in silver waves; Bella in a close-fitting black dress too hot for the day.

“Ah, Monsieur Fry,” Chagall said, rising to meet him. The painter’s eyes were large and uncommonly sharp, his expression one of bemuse­ment. “You’ve come after all. I thought you might. You won’t forget our agreement, will you?”

“All I want is your company for an hour.”

“You’re lying, of course. But you lie charmingly.”

They sat together at the table, Bella on Varian’s left, the painter to his right—he, Varian Fry, sitting down with the Chagalls, with Chagall, author of those color-saturated visions, those buoyant bridal couples and intelligent-eyed goats he’d seen in hushed rooms at the Museum of Modern Art. Bella filled a plate with brown hard-crusted miche, soft cheese, sardines crackling with salt; she handed it across the table, assessing Varian in silence.

“Had you been here a few days ago, we would have had tomatoes,” Chagall said. “A farmer brings them up to the market on Thursdays. I’m sorry we don’t have more to offer. The bread’s a little hard on the tooth, I’m afraid, but c’est la guerre!”

“This is lavish,” Varian said. “You’re too kind.”

“Not at all. We like to share what we have.” He gestured around him at the bare yellow stones, the rough benches, the shock of gold-green hillside visible through an archway in the wall. “As you see, we’re living a quiet and retired life in our little dacha. No one will bother us here at Gordes.”

“You have a studio,” Varian said. “You’re still producing work. That’s what makes you dangerous.”

“Our daughter says the same,” Bella said. “She’s been saying it for months. But you understand, Monsieur Fry—my husband’s reputa­tion will protect him. Vichy wouldn’t dare touch us.”

“With respect, Madame Chagall, I don’t believe that for a moment. Vichy is subject to the Nazis’ whims. And we all know what they’re capable of. I’ve seen it myself. I was in Berlin in ’35—sent by the magazine I worked for. My last night in town there was a riot on the Kurfurstendamm. The things I saw—men pulled from their shops and beaten in the streets—an old man stabbed through the hand at a café table—boys dragging a woman by her hair—”

“These things happened in Germany,” Chagall said, his tone harder now. “They won’t happen here. Not to us.”

“Let me speak to my friend at the consulate,” Varian said. “Ask him to start a file for you, at least. If you do decide to leave, it might take months.”

Chagall shook his head. “My apologies, Monsieur Fry. I’m sorry you had to come all this way in vain. But perhaps you’d like to have a look at the studio before you go—if you’ve finished, that is.”

Varian couldn’t speak; he could scarcely believe that a person of Chagall’s intelligence, a person of his experience, could fail to see what he himself saw clearly. Chagall rose and crossed the courtyard to a set of ten-foot-high blue doors, and Varian got to his feet. He nodded his thanks to Bella, then followed Chagall across the bro­ken paving stones. Beyond the blue doors was a long, high-ceilinged room with a wall of windows: the former refectory of the girls’ school. Canvases lay about everywhere, and for long minutes Varian walked among them in silence. As well as he knew the painter’s work, he had never seen it like this: in its pupal state, damp and mutable, smell­ing of turpentine, raw wood, wet clay. From the canvases rose ghost­like images: a grave-eyed Madonna hovering above a shadowed town, serenaded by cows and angels; crucified Christ wrapped in a prayer shawl, his head encircled by grieving sages; a woman kneeling beside a river, pressing a baby to her chest; clusters of red and white flowers rising like flames.

“It’s no small matter to cross an ocean,” Chagall said. “More can be lost than canvas and paint. An artist must bear witness, Monsieur Fry. He cannot turn away, even if he wishes to.”

“An artist can’t bear witness if he’s dead.”

The painter removed his hat and set it on his knee. “The Emer­gency Rescue Committee mustn’t concern itself further with our wel­fare,” he said. “Save your resources for those who truly need help. Max Ernst, for example—he’s rumored to be in a concentration camp at Gurs. Or Jacques Lipchitz, my friend from Montparnasse. Who knows where he’s fled to now? Or Lev Zilberman, who painted those massive murals in Berlin.”

“Yes, I know Zilberman’s work. Alfred Barr fought to get him on our list.”

“You’re not entirely on the wrong path, then. Help Ernst, help Zil­berman. Not me.” And he turned away from Varian, toward his can­vases, toward the brushes and knives, the wooden boxes cluttered with crushed tubes of paint. “I’ll mention your name among our circles,” he said. “I know plenty who are eager to leave.”
 
_____
 

Varian stumbled along the road toward Cavaillon, down the hill he’d seen through the courtyard arch. It would take him two hours to reach the station at this rate; another two on the train after that, and then he’d be back in Marseille, having made no progress at all. And what would he report to his colleagues in New York—to Paul Hagen, who directed the Emergency Rescue Committee, or to Frank Kingdon, its chair? That summer, when he and Paul and Ingrid Warburg and Alfred Barr and the others had compiled their list—two hundred art­ists, writers, and intellectuals who’d been blacklisted by the Gestapo and had no way out of France—they hadn’t imagined that their clients might resist being helped, nor that they’d consider themselves beyond Vichy’s reach. There were so many things they hadn’t considered; his life in France had become a process of discovering them, often to his embarrassment. It was a miracle he’d managed to get anyone out at all. There had been only twelve so far, a minuscule fraction of his list.

What he ought to do, he thought as he kicked stones along the rutted road, was to write his wife that night to say he was coming home. He’d confess—and what a relief it would be—that his work wasn’t going as planned. How had he imagined it would take a month, one month, to find and extract two hundred endangered artists? He’d envisioned himself riding a rented bicycle through the countryside, rounding up refugees by the dozen, as if they’d be waiting in the lemon orchards with traveling papers in hand. He’d imagined that the consulate would contort itself miraculously to help him. But then the chaos of this place, the innumerable bureaucratic barriers, the cre­tins in the U.S. Visa Office, the resistance of the artists themselves. What a mistake he’d made, crawling out from behind his desk at the publishing house. How could he have presumed to take the lives of men like Chagall and Ernst into his hands when he had no idea how to manage them—no idea, even, of how to convince them they were in danger? Eileen wanted him home; she feared for his life. Her letter from last week had made that clear. Well, home he’d go. He’d write her at once; he’d write her as soon as he reached the Splendide.
 
“A gripping, tender novel.” —The New Yorker

“Magnificent . . . a deeply researched, almost unbearably tense, bruised-knuckle hybrid. Part real history and part love story, it’s also a deeply moral work, asking tough questions about what matters most to us personally—and to the world.” —The Boston Globe

“Sympathetic and prodigiously ambitious. . . . [Orringer’s] Marseille breathes as a city breathes.” —Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times Book Review

“Gorgeous. . . . Classic storytelling through a transgressive lens. The Flight Portfolio offers a testament to . . . the enduring transformative power of art, and love, in any form.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Extraordinary. . . . Orringer has delivered a story with a splendid cast of characters and an intoxicating portrait of a time and place. . . . There’s suspense and tragedy, unexpected twists and deliverance.” —The Seattle Times
 
“Passionate and thoroughgoing. . . . [The Flight Portfolio] brings to light a truly inspiring episode in history.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“Varian Fry lit a small, bright lamp in a world of darkness, and in the deft hands of Julie Orringer—under the spell of her masterful prose, her feeling portraiture, her classic spy-thriller plotting, and her vivid re-creation of that beautiful and terrible world—I found the radiance of Fry’s courage, flawed humanity, and steadfast resistance shedding an inexhaustible light on our own ever-darkening time.” —Michael Chabon, author of Moonglow
 
“The novel seeks a kind of redress: restoring, to history’s vast panorama, a granular sense of how life on the borderlines of fascism feels . . . Orringer’s true subject, the moral peril of being alive, is a grandly timeless—and timely—one.” —T Magazine
 
“Magnificent. . . . Brilliantly conceived, impeccably crafted, and showcasing Orringer’s extraordinary gifts, this is destined to become a classic.” —Publishers Weekly(starred review)
 
“The novel exudes atmosphere. . . . Through cinematically detailed descriptions [and] multilayered, nuanced characters both real and imagined, Orringer has breathed life into 1940 France. . . . The Flight Portfoliocompellingly juxtaposes the conflicts and tragedies of a world at war with the equally compelling inner wars of the human soul.” —Pittsburg Post-Gazette
 
“Meticulous, bighearted, gorgeous, historical, suspenseful, everything you want a novel to be.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less
 
“Altogether satisfying. . . . An accomplished storyteller at work.” —Kirkus Reviews(starred review)
 
“Thoughtful and absorbing. . . . Orringer is a meticulous researcher, and the novel’s cloak-and-dagger thrills keep the pace lively.” —BookPage
 
“Superb. . . . [The Flight Portfolio] will both warm and break your heart.” —Business Insider

About

MARSEILLE, 1940. Varian Fry, a Harvard-educated journalist and editor, arrives in France. Recognizing the darkness descending over Europe, he and a group of like-minded New Yorkers formed the Emergency Rescue Committee, helping artists and writers escape from the Nazis and immigrate to the United States. Now, amid the chaos of World War II, and in defiance of restrictive U.S. immigration policies, Fry must procure false passports, secure visas, seek out escape routes through the Pyrenees and by sea, and make impossible decisions about who should be saved, all while under profound pressure—and in a state of irrevocable personal change. In this work of historical fiction—one that illuminates previously unexplored elements of Fry’s story, and has, since its publication, brought us new insight into his life—Julie Orringer has crafted a gripping tale of forbidden love, high-stakes adventure, and unimaginable courage.
 
“A gripping, tender novel.” —The New Yorker

“Magnificent . . . a deeply researched, almost unbearably tense, bruised-knuckle hybrid. Part real history and part love story, it’s also a deeply moral work, asking tough questions about what matters most to us personally—and to the world.” —The Boston Globe

“Sympathetic and prodigiously ambitious. . . . [Orringer’s] Marseille breathes as a city breathes.” —Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times Book Review

“Extraordinary. . . . Orringer has delivered a story with a splendid cast of characters and an intoxicating portrait of a time and place. . . . There’s suspense and tragedy, unexpected twists and deliverance.” —The Seattle Times
 
“Meticulous, bighearted, gorgeous, historical, suspenseful, everything you want a novel to be.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less
 
“Passionate and thoroughgoing. . . . [The Flight Portfolio] brings to light a truly inspiring episode in history.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“Varian Fry lit a small, bright lamp in a world of darkness, and in the deft hands of Julie Orringer—under the spell of her masterful prose, her feeling portraiture, her classic spy-thriller plotting, and her vivid re-creation of that beautiful and terrible world—I found the radiance of Fry’s courage, flawed humanity, and steadfast resistance shedding an inexhaustible light on our own ever-darkening time.” —Michael Chabon, author of Moonglow
 
“Magnificent. . . . Brilliantly conceived, impeccably crafted, and showcasing Orringer’s extraordinary gifts, this is destined to become a classic.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“The novel exudes atmosphere. . . . Through cinematically detailed descriptions [and] multilayered, nuanced characters both real and imagined, Orringer has breathed life into 1940 France. . . . The Flight Portfolio compellingly juxtaposes the conflicts and tragedies of a world at war with the equally compelling inner wars of the human soul.” —Pittsburg Post-Gazette
 
“Altogether satisfying. . . . An accomplished storyteller at work.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Thoughtful and absorbing. . . . Orringer is a meticulous researcher, and the novel’s cloak-and-dagger thrills keep the pace lively.” —BookPage
 
“Superb. . . . [The Flight Portfolio] will both warm and break your heart.” —Business Insider
 
“The novel seeks a kind of redress: restoring, to history’s vast panorama, a granular sense of how life on the borderlines of fascism feels . . . Orringer’s true subject, the moral peril of being alive, is a grandly timeless—and timely—one.” —T Magazine
 
“Gorgeous. . . . Classic storytelling through a transgressive lens. The Flight Portfolio offers a testament to . . . the enduring transformative power of art, and love, in any form.” —Entertainment Weekly

Author

© Julie Orringer
JULIE ORRINGER is the New York Times best-selling author of two award-winning books: The Invisible Bridge, a novel, and How to Breathe Underwater, a collection of stories. Her latest book is The Flight Portfolio. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, the MacDowell Colony, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children. View titles by Julie Orringer

Excerpt

I
 
Gordes
 
There was, it turned out, no train to the village where the Chagalls lived: one of many complications he’d failed to anticipate. He had to pay a boy with a motorbike to run him up from the station at Cavail­lon, ten miles at a brainshaking pace along a narrow rutted road. On either side rose ochre hills striated with grapevines and lavender and olive trees; overhead, a blinding white-veined sky. The smell was of the boy’s leather jacket and of charred potatoes, exhalate of his clever homemade fuel. At the foot of the village the boy parked in a shadow, accepted Varian’s francs, and tore off into the distance before Varian could arrange a ride back.

The streets of Gordes, carved into a sunstruck limestone hill above the Luberon Valley, offered little in the way of shade. He would have given anything to be back in Marseille with a glass of Aperol before him, watching sailors and girls, gangsters and spice vendors, parading the Canebière. The Chagalls had only agreed to see him on the basis that he not bring up the prospect of their emigration. But what other subject was there? The Nazis had taken Paris months ago, they were burning books in the streets of Alsace, they could send any refugee over the border at will. At least the Chagalls had agreed; that was something. But as he reached the house, an ancient Catholic girls’ school on the rue de la Fontaine Basse, he found himself fighting the urge to flee. His credentials, if anyone examined them, amounted to a fanatic’s knowledge of European history, a desire to get out from behind his desk in New York, and a deep frustration with his isola­tionist nation. And yet this was his job; he’d volunteered for it. What was more, he believed he could do it. He raised his hand and knocked.

An eye appeared in the brass circlet of the peephole, and a girl in a striped apron opened the door. She listened, strangling her index finger with one dark curl, as he stated his name and mission. Then she ushered him down a corridor and out into a courtyard, where a stone path led to a triangle of shade. There, at a bare wooden table, Chagall and his wife sat at lunch: the painter in his smock, his hair swept back from his forehead in silver waves; Bella in a close-fitting black dress too hot for the day.

“Ah, Monsieur Fry,” Chagall said, rising to meet him. The painter’s eyes were large and uncommonly sharp, his expression one of bemuse­ment. “You’ve come after all. I thought you might. You won’t forget our agreement, will you?”

“All I want is your company for an hour.”

“You’re lying, of course. But you lie charmingly.”

They sat together at the table, Bella on Varian’s left, the painter to his right—he, Varian Fry, sitting down with the Chagalls, with Chagall, author of those color-saturated visions, those buoyant bridal couples and intelligent-eyed goats he’d seen in hushed rooms at the Museum of Modern Art. Bella filled a plate with brown hard-crusted miche, soft cheese, sardines crackling with salt; she handed it across the table, assessing Varian in silence.

“Had you been here a few days ago, we would have had tomatoes,” Chagall said. “A farmer brings them up to the market on Thursdays. I’m sorry we don’t have more to offer. The bread’s a little hard on the tooth, I’m afraid, but c’est la guerre!”

“This is lavish,” Varian said. “You’re too kind.”

“Not at all. We like to share what we have.” He gestured around him at the bare yellow stones, the rough benches, the shock of gold-green hillside visible through an archway in the wall. “As you see, we’re living a quiet and retired life in our little dacha. No one will bother us here at Gordes.”

“You have a studio,” Varian said. “You’re still producing work. That’s what makes you dangerous.”

“Our daughter says the same,” Bella said. “She’s been saying it for months. But you understand, Monsieur Fry—my husband’s reputa­tion will protect him. Vichy wouldn’t dare touch us.”

“With respect, Madame Chagall, I don’t believe that for a moment. Vichy is subject to the Nazis’ whims. And we all know what they’re capable of. I’ve seen it myself. I was in Berlin in ’35—sent by the magazine I worked for. My last night in town there was a riot on the Kurfurstendamm. The things I saw—men pulled from their shops and beaten in the streets—an old man stabbed through the hand at a café table—boys dragging a woman by her hair—”

“These things happened in Germany,” Chagall said, his tone harder now. “They won’t happen here. Not to us.”

“Let me speak to my friend at the consulate,” Varian said. “Ask him to start a file for you, at least. If you do decide to leave, it might take months.”

Chagall shook his head. “My apologies, Monsieur Fry. I’m sorry you had to come all this way in vain. But perhaps you’d like to have a look at the studio before you go—if you’ve finished, that is.”

Varian couldn’t speak; he could scarcely believe that a person of Chagall’s intelligence, a person of his experience, could fail to see what he himself saw clearly. Chagall rose and crossed the courtyard to a set of ten-foot-high blue doors, and Varian got to his feet. He nodded his thanks to Bella, then followed Chagall across the bro­ken paving stones. Beyond the blue doors was a long, high-ceilinged room with a wall of windows: the former refectory of the girls’ school. Canvases lay about everywhere, and for long minutes Varian walked among them in silence. As well as he knew the painter’s work, he had never seen it like this: in its pupal state, damp and mutable, smell­ing of turpentine, raw wood, wet clay. From the canvases rose ghost­like images: a grave-eyed Madonna hovering above a shadowed town, serenaded by cows and angels; crucified Christ wrapped in a prayer shawl, his head encircled by grieving sages; a woman kneeling beside a river, pressing a baby to her chest; clusters of red and white flowers rising like flames.

“It’s no small matter to cross an ocean,” Chagall said. “More can be lost than canvas and paint. An artist must bear witness, Monsieur Fry. He cannot turn away, even if he wishes to.”

“An artist can’t bear witness if he’s dead.”

The painter removed his hat and set it on his knee. “The Emer­gency Rescue Committee mustn’t concern itself further with our wel­fare,” he said. “Save your resources for those who truly need help. Max Ernst, for example—he’s rumored to be in a concentration camp at Gurs. Or Jacques Lipchitz, my friend from Montparnasse. Who knows where he’s fled to now? Or Lev Zilberman, who painted those massive murals in Berlin.”

“Yes, I know Zilberman’s work. Alfred Barr fought to get him on our list.”

“You’re not entirely on the wrong path, then. Help Ernst, help Zil­berman. Not me.” And he turned away from Varian, toward his can­vases, toward the brushes and knives, the wooden boxes cluttered with crushed tubes of paint. “I’ll mention your name among our circles,” he said. “I know plenty who are eager to leave.”
 
_____
 

Varian stumbled along the road toward Cavaillon, down the hill he’d seen through the courtyard arch. It would take him two hours to reach the station at this rate; another two on the train after that, and then he’d be back in Marseille, having made no progress at all. And what would he report to his colleagues in New York—to Paul Hagen, who directed the Emergency Rescue Committee, or to Frank Kingdon, its chair? That summer, when he and Paul and Ingrid Warburg and Alfred Barr and the others had compiled their list—two hundred art­ists, writers, and intellectuals who’d been blacklisted by the Gestapo and had no way out of France—they hadn’t imagined that their clients might resist being helped, nor that they’d consider themselves beyond Vichy’s reach. There were so many things they hadn’t considered; his life in France had become a process of discovering them, often to his embarrassment. It was a miracle he’d managed to get anyone out at all. There had been only twelve so far, a minuscule fraction of his list.

What he ought to do, he thought as he kicked stones along the rutted road, was to write his wife that night to say he was coming home. He’d confess—and what a relief it would be—that his work wasn’t going as planned. How had he imagined it would take a month, one month, to find and extract two hundred endangered artists? He’d envisioned himself riding a rented bicycle through the countryside, rounding up refugees by the dozen, as if they’d be waiting in the lemon orchards with traveling papers in hand. He’d imagined that the consulate would contort itself miraculously to help him. But then the chaos of this place, the innumerable bureaucratic barriers, the cre­tins in the U.S. Visa Office, the resistance of the artists themselves. What a mistake he’d made, crawling out from behind his desk at the publishing house. How could he have presumed to take the lives of men like Chagall and Ernst into his hands when he had no idea how to manage them—no idea, even, of how to convince them they were in danger? Eileen wanted him home; she feared for his life. Her letter from last week had made that clear. Well, home he’d go. He’d write her at once; he’d write her as soon as he reached the Splendide.
 

Praise

“A gripping, tender novel.” —The New Yorker

“Magnificent . . . a deeply researched, almost unbearably tense, bruised-knuckle hybrid. Part real history and part love story, it’s also a deeply moral work, asking tough questions about what matters most to us personally—and to the world.” —The Boston Globe

“Sympathetic and prodigiously ambitious. . . . [Orringer’s] Marseille breathes as a city breathes.” —Cynthia Ozick, The New York Times Book Review

“Gorgeous. . . . Classic storytelling through a transgressive lens. The Flight Portfolio offers a testament to . . . the enduring transformative power of art, and love, in any form.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Extraordinary. . . . Orringer has delivered a story with a splendid cast of characters and an intoxicating portrait of a time and place. . . . There’s suspense and tragedy, unexpected twists and deliverance.” —The Seattle Times
 
“Passionate and thoroughgoing. . . . [The Flight Portfolio] brings to light a truly inspiring episode in history.” —The Wall Street Journal
 
“Varian Fry lit a small, bright lamp in a world of darkness, and in the deft hands of Julie Orringer—under the spell of her masterful prose, her feeling portraiture, her classic spy-thriller plotting, and her vivid re-creation of that beautiful and terrible world—I found the radiance of Fry’s courage, flawed humanity, and steadfast resistance shedding an inexhaustible light on our own ever-darkening time.” —Michael Chabon, author of Moonglow
 
“The novel seeks a kind of redress: restoring, to history’s vast panorama, a granular sense of how life on the borderlines of fascism feels . . . Orringer’s true subject, the moral peril of being alive, is a grandly timeless—and timely—one.” —T Magazine
 
“Magnificent. . . . Brilliantly conceived, impeccably crafted, and showcasing Orringer’s extraordinary gifts, this is destined to become a classic.” —Publishers Weekly(starred review)
 
“The novel exudes atmosphere. . . . Through cinematically detailed descriptions [and] multilayered, nuanced characters both real and imagined, Orringer has breathed life into 1940 France. . . . The Flight Portfoliocompellingly juxtaposes the conflicts and tragedies of a world at war with the equally compelling inner wars of the human soul.” —Pittsburg Post-Gazette
 
“Meticulous, bighearted, gorgeous, historical, suspenseful, everything you want a novel to be.” —Andrew Sean Greer, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Less
 
“Altogether satisfying. . . . An accomplished storyteller at work.” —Kirkus Reviews(starred review)
 
“Thoughtful and absorbing. . . . Orringer is a meticulous researcher, and the novel’s cloak-and-dagger thrills keep the pace lively.” —BookPage
 
“Superb. . . . [The Flight Portfolio] will both warm and break your heart.” —Business Insider

The New York Times’s 100 Best Books of the 21st Century

The New York Times recently published their list “100 Best Books of the 21st Century.” We are pleased to announce that there are 49 titles published from Penguin Random House and its distribution clients included in this list. Browse our collection of Penguin Random House titles here. Browse the full list from The New York

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2024 Middle and High School Collections

The Penguin Random House Education Middle School and High School Digital Collections feature outstanding fiction and nonfiction from the children’s, adult, DK, and Grupo Editorial divisions, as well as publishers distributed by Penguin Random House. Peruse online or download these valuable resources to discover great books in specific topic areas such as: English Language Arts,

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PRH Education High School Collections

All reading communities should contain protected time for the sake of reading. Independent reading practices emphasize the process of making meaning through reading, not an end product. The school culture (teachers, administration, etc.) should affirm this daily practice time as inherently important instructional time for all readers. (NCTE, 2019)   The Penguin Random House High

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PRH Education Translanguaging Collections

Translanguaging is a communicative practice of bilinguals and multilinguals, that is, it is a practice whereby bilinguals and multilinguals use their entire linguistic repertoire to communicate and make meaning (García, 2009; García, Ibarra Johnson, & Seltzer, 2017)   It is through that lens that we have partnered with teacher educators and bilingual education experts, Drs.

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PRH Education Classroom Libraries

“Books are a students’ passport to entering and actively participating in a global society with the empathy, compassion, and knowledge it takes to become the problem solvers the world needs.” –Laura Robb   Research shows that reading and literacy directly impacts students’ academic success and personal growth. To help promote the importance of daily independent

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