The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Like many of the other reviewers, I read The House I Loved because Sarah's Key was so powerful. This book is different. There can be no comparison between the story of the French government sending Jewish citizens to German death camps during World War II and the story of the hardship caused by eminent domain laws that were used as part of a massive renovation of Paris during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III. But every book does not have to be about genocide. The House I Loved is about memories and about the redemption brought about by recalling the bad as well as the good. In its own way it is a powerful story.
The plot is revealed through a series of letters being read and written by Rose Bazelet, a woman living in mid nineteenth century Paris who is determined to resist the razing of her home to make way for a wide boulevard. Most of the plot comes from Rose's writing to her deceased husband, Armand. In these she reflects on the early stages of their relationship and on both the wonderful and the tragic times they shared in their home. She has also kept a number of letters that have been written to her over the years. These give a different perspective on her life.
The house seems symbolic of Rose's life. There are reasons why she doesn't want to give up on her home, but there are also reasons why it would make sense for her to say “good riddance” to it. The same is true of the relationships she's had in her life. There isn't always logic behind the way things played out for her. Why does she love some people more than others, when in many cases it would make sense that she would feel the other way? I'm not sure what the answer to that question is and for that reason The House I Loved felt very real.
I felt Ms. De Rosnay gave a full picture of ordinary life in Paris in the nineteenth century, the shops, the relationships, the politics, the role of women, and much more. I listened to the audio version. It was read by Kate Reading, who brought the words to life in a marvelous way.
Steve Lindahl - Author of Motherless Soul
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