Paris Echo

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 09 Apr 2019

Member Reviews

Set in Paris our character Hannah an American academic is researching the lives of the women within the capital during the War/ German Occupation. Hannah meets Tariq a young Moroccan who has come to Paris to find out his late half french Mother. Both are trying to escape from their lives and see the research as a form of escapism and a way to answer questions or reveal facts. They form a close platonic friendship that intertwines and allows them to really help each other with there own personal missions and shape the direction they are now to take in life.
It's about perceptions and perspectives, how we see ourselves and others see us.
The book contains colonialism, racism, radicalism, feminism and much history but it never felt too heavy and was very readable. I found interesting how the dark side of Paris was presented, the homelessness and immigrants in contrast to the high end that we normally see.
And I found fascinating the stories from Hannah of the woman during the occupation and the hardships they endured and the quest for survival.
A well crafted atmospheric book which I enjoyed.
My thanks go to the publisher, author and Netgalley in proving this arc in return for a honest review.
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I did not enjoy this book as I found it a very slow start with characters that were not interesting. I can praise Sebastian for all the research but found that too often this was just factual regurgitation and did not flow that well.
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Tariq is a teenager from Morocco who longs to travel to Paris. He knows his mother was born there, that one of her parents was French. He doesn’t know what happened to her and partly from a desire to learn more, and partly simply from the desire to escape the routine of his school life, he takes his passport and travels into France on the back of a lorry.

Hannah is American and just over thirty. She’s been in Paris before. It was there she met the man who broke her heart all those years ago. Returning now is a chance not only to generate new research for a history book being written by her professor back in the states about women’s lives during the occupation of Paris by the Germans, but also to confront that earlier version of herself, the more carefree Hannah who was open to new experiences and people, whose suffering forced the older Hannah to disconnect from the present and pursue a love of the people of the past.

Tariq is handsome. He is a virgin. He embraces the positive and muddles through into France and then Paris, eventually finding not only places to sleep but a job. When a homeless girl he meets persuades Hannah to let them lodge in her rented apartment, Tariq forges a connection with Hannah that pits his ignorant enthusiasm against her knowledgeable and serious approach to life as an extenuation of the past. Both learn from each other.

I really enjoyed reading this novel. Despite the difficult history it unveils – looking at the French collaboration with the Germans, how they helped to round up Jews and send them off to die; as well as the Algerian War and the 1961 Paris massacre – the novel’s approach to the past is whimsical and searing, painful and healing. Faulks forces the characters to look not only at the past, but at themselves as separate individuals, externalising their experience as an exploration of the autoscopy in de Musset’s poetry. We can ghost ourselves, see ourselves from the outside, exist in ways that allow us to confront ourselves and the past in ways that feel present. We can hear the echos of ourselves and the many others before us in the steps we take through the city streets. And, through the other people that Tariq meets in his travels – one a strange puppet performer who travels the metro under the name Victor Hugo (could he somehow be the real Victor Hugo?) – we are asked to rethink religion as an attempt to think about and explain what we cannot see rather than something formal to fight over. These musings make the novel pleasing on so many levels.

So while the narrative feels gentle – the main characters progress optimistically towards a greater self-fulfilment – the novel is anything but. There is an unflinching questioning spirit that allows narrative to spin history out of the past and into the living and breathing minds in the present. I really enjoyed Paris Echo and wish there were more novels that explored such difficult European territory.
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I’d heard so many great things about Sebastian Faulks and his writing and was really looking forward to reading my first book by him. Sadly, I have such mixed feelings about this book. There were some things that I really enjoyed and some that I just didn’t like and didn’t work for me.

The first thing that I didn’t like was that for me this book just started off very slow. I nearly gave up on it. I did really enjoy the historical part of this book, I thought it was interesting and very well researched.

I did like how this book is written in first person with alternate narratives from 2 different perspectives. I thought this was good at first but as I read on I felt the two characters didn’t  really connect well together. Therefore, it made me feel like I couldn’t really connect with the characters. When it comes to the characters I had mixed feeling about them. They were interesting but yet at times they seemed to be unrelatable and unrealistic especially in some of the things they did through the book.

This particular book was not for me probably because I was expecting an action-packed war time thriller and I didn’t get that, but I’m sure it will be a hit with the devoted fans of Sebastian Faulks, and there for if you enjoyed his previous books then I recommend this one.

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publishers Hutchinson (Random House UK) for my review copy in return for an honest and unbiased review.
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Sebastian Faulks' latest novel is interesting and well researched, historically, but suffers from rather a slow start and is somewhat disappointing overall. Faulks returns to the city he knows so well and gives many insights into modern France. He features two protagonists, 19 year old Moroccan, Tariq, exploring Paris via the  Metro, and thirty something Hannah, an American academic, researching the voices of women in the Occupation. They appear to have little in common other than their status as outsiders. Vivid pictures are drawn of a number of characters, some weird and others positively unpleasant.  Faulks explores the darker side of this beautiful city, both in the present day and in the Nazi era.  We also gain some understanding of the lives of the pied-noirs and the horrors of the Algerian War (1954-62).  The main reason I liked this book was because of the historical knowledge I gained but in general this was not as good as many of his other novels.
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This is a delicious book. Paris, both past and present is brought to life, forming the backdrop for characters who one can believe in. The book brings up difficult cultural issues about France’s past which reverberate today. Perhaps the past and how it shapes the present, is something many Counties can reflect on. I did not want to leave these pages, characters, places, bars, food, drink, smells - but have been left longing to go back to Paris and see it in a new light.
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I’m a big fan of Faulks, and Paris Echo was no disappointment. Set in Paris, this is the tale of Tariq originally arriving on the hunt for his mother before this is quickly forgotten on meeting women.. This is the tale of the real Paris, not the tourist facade, whilst simultaneously regressing to 1940s Nazi occupied Paris, reminding us that history lives on and echoes through the ages.
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Faulks' novel looks at the actions of Parisians and the French Resistance during the war from a different angle. Our experience of it is acquired from witness accounts collected by Hannah, a modern-day writer, and her young tenant who helps with the translations of accounts. The upshot of Faulks' writing is that he really makes you think about the utter confusion the local Parisians experienced as they collaborated for one side and then for the other.
Although I thought this was a refreshing approach I did find it slow-going, especially at the beginning and, I do feel that if you're expecting an action-packed war-time thriller you would be disappointed. 
Thank you to NetGalley and Hutchinson (Penguin Random House Group) for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Struggled with this book - yet persisted in the hope it might get better and engage me  (due to reputation of Sebastian Faulks).  I gave up half way through.  I found the story dull and the characters uninteresting.
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I don’t know what I was expecting from this from Sebastian Faulks, but I found this to be a bit of a mish mash of contemporary and historical fiction with a bit of War time drama and I found some of it a little confusing.

Tariq is a runaway, who has travelled to Paris to find out more about his mother.....Hannah, although she doesn’t know him, let him stay in her spare room.

Tariq’s story, Hannah’s story and Hannah’s research trickle their way throughout the book. Tariq seemingly even interacts with a woman from the 1940’s. 

The historical part of the book I found very interesting but I’m afraid the rest was a little dry...not one for me but I’m sure fans of Faulks will love it.

I would like to thank the Author/the Publishers/NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a fair and honest review
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A rather different book from Sebastian Faulks. Modern-day Paris overlaps with the Paris of Victor Hugo and World War 2. 

An intriguing and enjoyable read
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Confession time: I have never read a Sebastian Faulks novel.  Not even Birdsong, which everyone my age seemed to read during A’Levels as it seemed to cover lots of the War Poets and all that area of history and literature.  I found it to be stuffy and a bit dull, if I remember rightly. Filled with adult thoughts and abstract themes.  I tried and failed to read Charlotte Gray as even at 16, the most tumultuous time of life, it was a bit too angsty for me.

“Paris, Echo” fitted my bill as it has a city in the title. Honestly, it’s also quite short so I thought if I was going to have another go it’d be a good idea to do with as few pages as possible!

It starts with Tariq, a teenage boy obsessed with two things: himself and having sex with a woman.  He runs away to Paris via a largely undisclosed route, he ends up in the back of a lorry with a French girl who gets them to Paris and then gets sick. Tariq’s voice is distinctive – narcissistic and naïve.  It’s quite fun to be him for a while, and the descriptions of the different parts of Paris are vivid enough to be interesting.

Just as I was getting tired of Tariq’s quest for losing his virginity, the voice switches to Hannah. She’s an American in Paris on a historical academic research assignment. She’s lonely, and returns to Paris in an attempt to rediscover the last time she was happy, nearly two decades previous.

The two meet and Tariq becomes her lodger. I thought this was a bit of a jarring moment – perhaps I’m not as kind as Hannah but I would not feel comfortable taking in a couple of teens from the street, especially sick ones. Maybe I should be nicer, as it works well for Hannah. Together the two of them become friends, and their separate explorations of Paris as a city now and then intertwine and overlap in a fascinating way.

There is so much history all around us and it’s easy to forget as we walk down the street in our daily lives that other people have lived, loved and died in these buildings, in the ones there previously.  Living in Norwich especially, we are surrounded by history that dates back more than 1000 years. One thousand years! Nestled between Wilkos and Iceland, that bit of wall from the 9th century. 

We learn from history and Tariq and Hannah draw their own conclusions from the brush with the past they have. Talking to an old woman from the resistance, Hannah is awed by her experiences. Tariq is dismissive as he can speak better French than Hannah – he is appalled by the old woman’s coarse vernacular. I enjoyed the intersection between judgements – what was perceived, what happened and how they reacted separately.

This was a good introduction to Faulks and I might well try to read Birdsong again at some point. A nice distraction and interesting to read – a good way to pass the time.

Thanks to Netgalley for giving me access to a copy.
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Paris Echo by Sebastian Faulks sounded like an interesting book. Alas, I found myself not especially engrossed in the tale. I ended up giving up the book, thinking I would give it another try later on. In truth, I will never get back to it. Some books are just not my cup of coffee!
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I am a great admirer of Sebastian Faulks's novels, but this one I found disappointing. The fractured timeline wasn't always easy to follow, and I found the characters were difficult to connect with. It is fine to have unfinished stories and plot lines in a literary novel, but there seemed too many in this one. Sandrine simply faded away and I wondered why she was even necessary. Faulks is one of the greatest contemporary war story novelists alive today but perhaps this rich vein has run dry for him. I hope not, but even if it has, he can write almost anything well.
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It's a while since I read one of Sebastian Faulks' books so I was pleased to receive an ARC thanks to Net Galley and the publisher .This book isn't a big hitter like 'Birdsong' or 'Charlotte Gray' but it deals in part with the theme of women in wartime ,as they did.
The story is told through two characters, Tariq, a young Moroccan,  and Hannah,an American academic. Tariq enters France illegally ,aiming to try and find out about his half French' mother,who died when he was a child.Hannah is researching the lives of Parisian women in during the German occupation.The two form a friendship, and the book deals with their relationship but also with the story of the women Hannah researches.
It's an interesting depiction of a side of Paris that' not many of us see,and the experience Tariq both Hannah and Tariq have as outsiders. The wartime stories of women's lives are fascinating.
I enjoyed reading 'Paris Echo' and was particularly impressed with the descriptions of Paris that are well away from the touristy picture that most of  us have. The characters are well drawn and credible.
I would recommend this novel .
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I love this author, he tells a good tale while ensuring the reader is moving along with the setting and the characters.

Hannah is in Paris researching the lives of women in Paris during the German war.

Her story includes her traumas and along with the story of Tariq and the reasons why he is in Paris this turns into a story with much emotion.

This is a stunning read and while I had to remind myself of what I had read it is one of those books that you must talk about and one that leaves the reader contemplating about their lives and those around them
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Hannah and Tariq go to Paris for different reasons,he leaves Algeria in search of information regarding his Parisian mother, she goes to research the women's roles in WW2. Tariq fails in his  quest but discovers what is important to him . Hannah moves on from a love affair of her student days .Beautifully written, giving an insight into 2 completely different lives.
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Having read other books by this author I was looking forward to this one and was not disappointed. This tale tells the story of Paris as experienced by women during the occupation of France by the Germans during World War 2. The narrative passes from modern day to the past in rather unusual way in that the past stories are told by the women who lived through this perilous time and they have recorded their memories for future generations to listen to. Another unusual aspect in that the main characters in the book are not French, but an American researcher working on post graduate studies and an Algerian teenager trying to discover the truth about his dead French mother. Normally the two characters would never have met but an unusual set of circumstances put the two together and they learn to live parallel lives with each one helping the other. This is a long book which I thoroughly enjoyed but I did feel that the ending was rather abrupt and left me wanting more hence the reason for only four stars instead of five. 

Many thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for an opportunity to read the book in return for a fair and honest review.
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Although I enjoyed the book I was left with the feeling that I had somehow missed the main point. 
The plot revolves around two strangers who meet each other by chance in Paris. Each of the main characters has their own separate storyline, occasionally coming together for a chapter or two. This is combined with both historical events and characters which weave another thread through the plot, along with present day characters who support the whole. It makes for good but slightly confusing reading. 
The characters are interesting and engaging, with good backstories making them easy to understand. 
The writing is descriptive and brings to life the characters and the scene. It also breathes life into the emotions of each of the characters so that you feel almost that way while reading it, or at the very least can fully understand how they are feeling in the moment.
Although, as I said I'm not sure I really understood the book it was thought provoking and had me pondering on the cyclical nature of life and historical events. Taken at face value it is an interesting, though not particularly earth shattering story, a pleasant and relaxing read. I do feel there is more to it and will probably read it again just to satisfy myself
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This novel has the feel typical of Sebastian Faulkes writing, especially his obvious love of, and attachment to,  Paris.  His descriptions evokes each picture clearly in the reader's mind.  Each cityscape echoes in the minds of the characters in the story.  The city is the link between two distinctly different backgrounds and lives for the two lead characters.  Hannah is a researcher from America and Tariq is a frustrated and curious 19 year old from Morocco.  Hannah is planning to write about women's' experiences during the war era and Tariq hopes to find out more about his mother and her roots.  Irritatingly, he makes little concrete effort to really seek out hard information about her, although he discovers much about the colonial impact of French politics on North African communities.  They are drawn together and somehow manage to help each other on to the next phase of their lives.  The past and present mingle, sometimes quite literally on the page.  The reader is deliberately left wondering how much we need to know, remember or understand about the past in order to lead a meaningful and useful life on the present.
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