The House I Loved

Tatiana de Rosnay, Author
Tatiana de Rosnay. St. Martin’s, $25.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-312-59330-8
Reviewed on: 12/12/2011
Release date: 02/14/2012
Open Ebook - 240 pages - 978-1-4299-5047-3
Compact Disc - 5 pages - 978-1-4272-1485-0
Paperback - 222 pages
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-1-4472-1315-4
Paperback - 291 pages - 978-1-59413-590-3
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Parisian Rose Bazelet is a woman in mourning, for her husband and son, both long dead; for her distant daughter; and because of Napoleon III’s ambitious urban planning agenda in the mid-19th century, an enormous project that could destroy her beloved family estate. With the planners already leveling nearby houses, Rose hides in her cellar and writes letters to her deceased husband about her struggle to save their home. As the letters continue, and destruction grows near, Rose remembers her married life. With the planners “rattling about at the entrance” and taking her friend Alexandrine, who has come to rescue her, by surprise, Rose reveals to her late husband the dark secret she could never bring herself to tell him when he was alive. Though bestseller de Rosnay’s epistolary narrative is slow to build, it’s fraught with drama, as the Sarah’s Key author aims to create an immersive experience in a hugely transformative period in Paris (see Paul La Farge’s Haussmann, or the Distinction), when the city was torn between modernity and tradition. In Rose, one gets the clear sense of a woman losing her place in a changing world, but this isn’t enough to make up for a weak narrative hung entirely on the eventual reveal of a long-buried secret. (Feb.)
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