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Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks
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Paris Echo

by Sebastian Faulks

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Hannah has moved to Paris to do some research on WWII. Paris has not been very kind to her in the past. She takes in Tariq, totally by accident. Tariq is a refugee determined to make it in Paris. Hannah and Tariq become strange friends but it works for them. Their connection is unique and enjoyable.

I love the matter of fact tone of this author. There is no sugar-coating, no over-dramatizing. It just is. However, the story is filled with mundane, everyday activities. This I could do without. It also repeats itself in several places. But, I could not stop reading. I enjoyed the characters and their struggles. Especially Hannah. She discovers something during her research and it totally knocks her for a loop! This is a game changer in this story.

I enjoy historical remembrance stories. This book did not have as many as I like, but it made up for it in historical references. I learned a lot in this read about the struggles many women had during the occupation of France. Not sure I have every really given that much thought. I love it when an author gives me a different insight.

I received this novel from Henry Holt for a honest review. ( )
  fredreeca | Nov 14, 2018 |
Tariq is a Moroccan teenager, sexually frustrated and looking for adventure he decides to travel to Paris, former home of his long-dead mother and a city he is obsessed with. Hannah is an American academic who travels to Paris to research the lives of women during the Occupation and to exorcise the ghost of an unsatisfactory love affair from her last visit ten years before. Tariq is an innocent abroad, he knows nothing of the famous French that his beloved Metro stations are named after, but his eyes are opened to two sad events, the deportation of the Parisian Jews from Drancy and the massacre of the Algerians several years later. Hannah finds her life intertwined with the stories of the women she is researching.
Many reviewers say that this is not Faulks' finest book, it may well not be, but a lesser offering from Faulks is still better than most other books published! I loved this book and am prepared to forgive the slightly confusing elements because it is such an emotional story. I ended it wanting to know more about the plight of the Algerians under Pappon, a tale that is glossed over in French history. Faulks is a wonderful writer, he draws the reader in with emotional power until the reader really cares about the characters and then is hit with the bigger message. I don't think this is one of Faulks' weaker books, it is just wonderful. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Oct 27, 2018 |
Two unlikely visitors to Paris become friends when Tariq, a young man from Morocco, and Hannah, a researcher from the US, become housemates. Both are seeking answers: Tariq hopes to learn about the mother who left him as a young child; and Hannah seeks oral histories of women of the Resistance. Each ends up with more questions, as well as more self-awareness. I particularly enjoyed the somewhat ethereal scenes of Tariq's encounters with the puppeteer Victor Hugo and the mysterious Clemence, and the serendipitous connections between Tariq's and Hannah's quests. As one would expect, the accounts of women's lives during the German Occupation of France were horrific and powerful. ( )
  sleahey | Oct 23, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
*I received this book through LibraryThing Early Reviewers.*

I've read some great historical fiction centered around Paris and France during the Nazi occupation that this book unfortunately just didn't compare well. I enjoyed the story, which is largely set in the 2000s Paris and involves an unlikely friendship between a historical researcher and a young Morroccan man. While I liked the stories they uncovered as the research progresses, I felt like this novel had too many separate strands that never really wove together all that well. ( )
  wagner.sarah35 | Oct 13, 2018 |
Ever since his immense critical and commercial success with Birdsong, a new novel from Sebastian Faulks has always been a major event in the literary world. His A Week in December is one of my favourite novels (although I think that Capital by John Lanchester – and how eagerly I await a new novel from him – covered similar ground even more effectively), but I struggled to engage with some of his more recent books.

As a regular participant in BBC Radio 4’s literary quiz programme, The Write Stuff, he has showcased his ability to produce marvellous pastiches of established icons, although I found his contribution to the ‘official’ James Band canon, Devil May Care, rather disappointing, and his officially sanctioned addition to P G Wodehouse’s corpus, Jeeves and the Wedding Bells was simply an embarrassment to all concerned. I was, therefore, a little uncertain as I embarked upon this latest novel, although all the reviews that I had seen had been very favourable.

On this occasion, those reviewers spoke with straight tongue. This is a clever and engaging novel, and features several of Faulks’s soundest characteristics. It is set in Paris in 2006 and takes the form of two counterpoised narratives, one related by Hannah, an American academic who has returned to the city after a gap of ten years. In her previous visit she had been a postgraduate student, embarking upon an academic career. While there she had fallen into a passionate, but ultimately damaging, relationship with a Russian playwright who, after a few months, simply moved away, returning to his wife in Russia. This time, Hannah is commissioned to write a chapter for an academic study of life in Paris during the German occupation between 1940 and 1944.

The other account is related by Tariq, a disaffected young Moroccan who reaches such a pitch of frustration with his family life that he decides to leave, making his way by ferry to France. Having landed in Marseille, he befriends a young French woman, Sandrine, who is trying to make her way to Paris. Sandrine is clearly unwell, and once they reach Paris, Tariq shows unwonted initiative and manages to find them a room to live in, and to secure a job for himself. Meanwhile, Sandrine’s health deteriorates, to such an extent that Hannah comes across her lying ill in a doorway, and takes her into her own rented apartment. Tariq joins them there shortly afterwards, at which point a recuperated Sandrine suddenly departs, trying to make her way to England.

The rest of the novel revolves around Tariq’s attempts to establish himself in Paris, and to develop sufficient maturity to encourage Hannah to allow him to continue to occupy a room in her flat, while Hannah pursues her researches, with mixed success. However, as this is Faulks, the are some of his characteristic quirks of time and place, with both Tariq and Hannah experiencing momentary displacement, as the depth of the city’s history exerts its power upon them. The sense of history at work is heightened by Faulks’s use of stations on the Paris Metro as chapter titles. Perhaps more than any other underground system, reading the line maps of the Paris Metro is like a history lesson in itself, and Tariq is made increasingly aware of the city’s past as he wanders the streets and rides the subway to pass his time.

This may not quite be up to the standard of A Week in December, and will probably fall well short of the commercial success enjoyed by Birdsong, but it is a thoughtful and well written novel, and shows Faulks coming close to his former high standards. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Sep 28, 2018 |
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For Hector, mon ami
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I was taking a pee in the bathroom when I caught sight of myself in the mirror.
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