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robtwinem

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I live in Bristol UK literary fiction and crime are my books of choice and when not reading I like to run

Poignant and soul searching

Paris Echo - Sebastian Faulks

Tariq Sandrine, a Moroccan teenager, has taken the decision to travel to Paris in part to discover something about his Parisian born mother...."Paris and its beauty, by its pavement cafes and its trees and bridges, by its cathedral floating on the stream and all the other charms to which no sane person could fail to respond"...... Hannah is in Paris as part of her studies; a thesis she is writing on the women of Paris during its occupation by the Germans in 1940-1944. When Tariq and Hannah meet by chance a strange alliance develops between them, a meeting of lost souls in a city with a troubled war history.

 

Tariq finds employment in the guise of a fast food outlet where he is introduced to the joys of smoking hash and loose women. As a 19 year old and a late developer his part in Paris Echo is his coming of age. It is however the experiences of Hannah and her attempt to source surviving evidence either written or recorded that lends to Paris Echo a great sense of loss and hopelessness. She learns of the attitude of Parisian women to the German occupation and tearfully researches such brave resistance fighters as Andree Borrel, a young French woman trained by the Special Operations Executive (SOE) Through an act of betrayal Borrel is captured  and sent to "Natzweiler" the only concentration camp ever built in France...."but when her turn came, Andree was still conscious and fought back, tearing flesh from the face of her murderer with her fingernails as he pushed her into the flames"....Fraternization, collaboration and betrayal was what defined Paris at this time..."the indifference of others; the racial hatred and propaganda and the deportations to the death camps"......

 

This is a poignant sobering story blending historical fact into a modern setting. Two young people trying to interpret this business of living and their role within that. For Tariq it will mean friendship, manhood and winning the girl of his dreams. For Hannah true love has always been close but will she discover its tender touch before it disappears. Paris Echo is a story full of hope with a simple message that life is for the taking and only by action can we understand the true meaning of what it is to exist. Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.