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Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks X
Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2018
    272 pages
    Genre: Novels

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  • Barbara O. (Red Bank, NJ)

    Journeying Paris through the wonders of the Metro
    Beautiful language echoing two different life journeys for two very different individuals both in Paris seeking similar resolutions. Hannah, researching women's lives in World War II and Tariq, drawn to Paris to learn more about his mother's roots. Two different paths, cleverly intertwined with the rich history of Paris yet similar in their search. Lots of discussion points for book clubs are raised in this book. The moral choices faced and made during Nazi occupation but also the same choices created by the French Algerian crisis in the 60's. This book is filled with rich imagery juxtaposing Tariq's Paris journey in the immigrant neighborhoods and Hannah's world of academia. Loved experiencing Paris through both sets of eyes.
  • Marganna K. (Edmonds, WA)

    A Trip to Paris
    Interesting story - interesting characters and a different way to weave time lines, cultures & perspectives into a modern day story which also gives the reader a look into WWII.

    There are 2 narrators: Tariq - a young Muslim man from Morocco who comes to Paris in search for his deceased 1/2 French mother & to escape the pressures of his family; and Hannah - a 30'ish American woman returning to Paris to write about French women in Paris during WWII.

    These two meet and it's through their eyes the story unfolds. There are several minor characters that lend interest including Paris itself. The chapter titles could provide the reader with a Tour Guide. Being in the streets of Paris through the story was a gratifying part of the book.

    Hannah and Tariq never gained my full attention. This might have been from the jumping back and forth of the time lines which included the war years. The WWII women's stories were not gripping or revealing - part of the most important aspect of the novel fell flat. Its 3 stories linked together where the characters never "came alive" for me.

    Although I enjoyed the book & appreciated the solid writing I never was fully engaged & think it fell just a bit short to rate 5 stars.
  • Sharon W. (Columbia, SC)

    Dashed Expectations
    This is a book I thought I would love and wanted to love. I didn't. I just liked it. Despite its most intriguing premise, the pacing is akin to that old molasses cliche.

    Tariq and Hannah were both annoying individuals. I would not want to spend more than 5 minutes with either.

    Despite my complaints, I am glad I read it. I felt much the same way about Birdsong, which shares the same author and basic flaws. It, too, moved slowly, yet finally revealing something of the resilience of the human soul.
  • Sandra H. (St. Cloud, MN)

    A Must Read for Sebastian Faulk Fans
    Sebastian Faulks' "Paris Echo" will definitely resonate with readers who enjoy following characters who find their beliefs tested. Hannah, a young American, comes to Paris to delve into the past when it was occupied by the Nazis in WWII. and takes in Tariq, a young Moroccan who has fled to Paris hoping to find a better life as a lodger.
    As Hannah delves deeper into the lives of the lives
    women in Nazi occupied Paris, she uncovers information that changes her views in ways she never expected and Taiiq, too, questions his decision as he learns more about the city he had planned to live in.
    Faulk fans will definitely love this book but readers who struggle jumping around in time may struggle. While I gave the a "4" I believe 3.5 is a more accurate reflection of my feelings.
  • Betsey V. (Austin, TX)

    Slow paced, thematic, and fueled with intellectual energy
    The City of Lights also has a dark history, and some of the effects of the past are illustrated within a fictional story in Faulks' latest novel. It takes place largely during the contemporary years (circa 2006) and during the Occupation of France, specifically Paris and the Vichy government, during WW II. At that time, when Germany was in power, the French government cooperated with the Nazis, killing German enemies and rounding up Jews for deportation. The French Resistance was a brave and subversive organization, especially as the native French were in danger of being slaughtered by their own people if caught working against the Axis powers.

    There is also a murky past of Colonial Algeria, starting in the 19th century, which segued into the migrant movement of some Algerians to France. In this instance, instead of France being an auxiliary to another country (Germany), Algeria was an auxiliary to France under a variety of governmental systems, and bands of French-sanctioned Algerian groups, or Harkis, would kill their own people in submission to the French government. Eventually, there were uprisings of Muslim populations, fueled by the lack of autonomy, against the French people.

    I only include these (very simplistic) pieces of history because much of it is not only background and setting to PARIS ECHO, but, especially in the case of the Occupation in Paris, comes alive in vivid portrayals through the two protagonists. Hannah, a thirty-one-year-old American postdoc historian, returns to Paris for a second time, having left ten years ago after a failed love affair with a Russian playwright. She's learned to subdue, even quell ideas of romance, in favor of immersing herself in history, a place she feels safely in control. But, when listening to 1998 recordings of Parisian women who lived in and witnessed the Occupation, she learns some horrifying information that threatens to undermine her emotional quiescence.

    Tariq, a nineteen-year-old Moroccan college student from Tangier, fluent in French but deficient in history, decides to run off to Paris to experience adventure. He had a romantic idea of Paris from movies and pictures he'd seen, but discovered that, for a poor black man in Paris, living the dream could be a nightmare. He was hoping to dig up some information on his half-French mother, who was raised in Paris. She died when Tariq was ten, before he could learn much about her past. Tariq has a talent for talking to anyone, and making friends easily, which eventually led him to Hannah. He soon became a lodger in Hannah's apartment, and helps her with some tricky French translations in her research.

    While Hannah lives a circumscribed life in Paris, Tariq falls in love with the Metro, and becomes an adventurer, after all, riding almost all the lines and getting off on the most untouristy stops. He gets a job working at a fast-chicken eatery, and the Muslim immigrants he works with and an old man he meets on the metro become his best teachers of Algerian history.

    The narrative is slower paced than the satirical A WEEK IN DECEMBER, and the plot is generally thin. It's told with an intellectual vibrancy, and the Paris streets and metro lines become almost a character in itself. Even the chapter headings are the names of metro lines. The energy in the novel turns primarily to theme—of identity; the tragic complicity of human life; forbearance; the search for love; and that history requires us to both remember and imagine.

    The ghosts of the past cross into the present and become Tariq's personal Rubicon, when a photograph of an enigmatic and beautiful woman from the Resistance becomes transcendent and alive for him now. Faulks plays with history on several levels, achieving the idea that the past belongs to everyone, and we must come to terms with our own past, in order to move forward into the future.

    "I was bored…Who cares about history…? What's the point of 'remembering' stuff that happened before you were born? We weren't 'remembering' it, anyway. We hadn't been there—neither had our teachers, nor anyone else in the world—so we couldn't 'remember' it. What we were doing was 'imagining' it…And what was the point of that?" Tariq eventually confronts this in a most sublime way.

    As for Hannah, she must confront the sublimation of her past and stop living in the past if she wanted to engage actively with her life. In many ways, Hannah and Tariq assist each other to evolve. It's a subtle and leisurely meander around Paris and history, one that winds around and occasionally forks, with a slow and heavy current and not a lot of noise.
  • Nanette S. (San Pierre, IN)

    Paris Echo
    Paris Echo is the story of two people looking to discover the "secrets" of their past in order to understand and resolve their present-day inner conflicts. A young man leaves his Algerian life for Paris in his search for adventure, meaning, and love while a middle-aged American woman revisits the City of Light to study the lives of Parisian women during World War II. Set both in the past and the present, Faulks weaves a historically accurate picture of French behavior during the World War and the subsequent Algerian War. As Tarik and Hannah's personal relationship grows, so does their understanding and acceptance of themselves and their personal histories which leads to the story's masterful conclusions.
  • Dottie B. (Louisville, KY)

    Paris Echo
    Sebastian Faulks's latest novel Paris Echo combines World War II history and contemporary Parisian culture. Main character Hannah has come to Paris to study the recordings of French women under Nazi occupation. There she meets Tariq a young Moroccan refuge who is in Paris illegally. While he lives in her flat, both he and she learn much about the other and about Paris during the Nazi occupation. The novel demonstrates through the two characters' encounters how wars fought in the past impact current events and attitudes. Reading the novel reminds the reader of William Faulkner's statement that the past is never dead.
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