American historian Hannah intends to immerse herself in World War II research in Paris, wary of paying much attention to the city where a youthful misadventure once left her dejected. But a chance encounter with Tariq, a Moroccan teenager whose visions of the City of Lights as a world of opportunity and rebirth starkly contrast with her own, disrupts her plan.
The prowess of his storytelling makes [Faulks] a graceful guide ... Cunningly crafted, Faulks’s fictional bridge between the French past and present — and, discreetly, between Jewish and Arab legacies — has its sentimental side ... most readers will forgive him the novelistic sleight-of-hand that brings his people, and his histories, together.
The merit of the book is its plot, the constituent parts turning in different directions before falling into place ... Not quite magic realism, the novel veers close to the mawkish time-travel territory of the 1990s TV series Goodnight Sweetheart.. This is a puzzling novel, not entirely successful in its voices and devices, but brimming with Faulks’s deep affection for Paris.
Heading home and in a final twist skirting danger, Tariq is one of Mr. Faulks’s most memorable charmers—his fiction abounds in them—and Paris Echo, for all its tragedy, one of his most buoyant novels, flawlessly paced and deftly constructed. Here this agile writer... moves gracefully back and forth between shadow and light, weaving together disparate stories but never too neatly.