Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The House I Loved

This is the second book I've read by Tatiana de Rosnay. I read Sarah's Key last summer which was a well-written book and one I have recommended to others. I would have a hard time saying I enjoyed it given the heartwrenching story.

This book is set in 1860s Paris and is part love story, part fictional memoir. It is written as a long letter from Rose, a widow, to her husband, filling him in on the events of the 10 years since he died - culminating with the fact that their beloved home (which was his childhood home as well) is about to be torn down. Napoleon III is making broad boulevards to replace the quaint little streets in an effort to modernize Paris. The effort began during her husband's later years, but they always thought their home was safe as they were in close proximity of a church.

Some of Rose's friends and neighbors are content to take the money offered by the government as compensation and move. Rose fights every step of the way. To her the home is more than just a building. It was the soul of their family and full of memories. She is about 60 years old and has no interest in starting a new life somewhere else or seeing her beloved neighborhood transformed to something modern.  I have to say I would side with Rose too.  I'm not sentimental about little things, but the home where you've lived your entire life and had no intention of leaving is not something you can just walk away from.

She writes about some of the neighbors and shopkeepers she has befriended since her husband's death.
Rose uses her writing as a way to also tell her husband some of the things she could not tell him in the last few years of his life as he started to suffer from dementia. While most of her writing is positive and full of love there are a few things that she has trouble writing but feels she finally had to confess to be able to move on.

In the end I found the ending appropriate and would definitely recommend this book.

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