13, rue Thérèse

Elena Mauli Shapiro, Author
Elena Mauli Shapiro, Little, Brown/Reagan Arthur, $23.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-316-08328-7
Reviewed on: 12/13/2010
Release date: 02/01/2011
Open Ebook - 978-0-316-12164-4
Paperback - 280 pages - 978-0-316-08333-1
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Shapiro's debut, an imaginative, sensual rendering of a Parisian woman's life, is told through the voice of Trevor Stratton, a young American scholar and translator working at a university in Paris. Stratton finds a box filled with objects dating back to WWI that once belonged to Louise Brunet, and his fascination with the box's contents—postcards, handkerchiefs, love letters, and other vintage keepsakes—leads him to imagine what Brunet's life in Paris might have been. What Stratton isn't aware of at first is that the box was left for him by Josianne, a secretary at the university, who is using the box and its contents to measure Stratton's romantic worthiness. As Stratton unfolds Brunet's story against the background of WWI battlefields and several inventions—a lover, Camille Victor, who dies in battle; a resulting unhappy marriage to husband Henri; and a passionate affair with a married neighbor, Xavier Langlais—he gradually comes to realize that Josianne is the source of his archival inspiration. The book is illustrated with photos of the actual objects owned by Shapiro, cleverly used as the novel's framing device. (Feb.)
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