St. Martin’s Press|February 14, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-1-250-01288-3
From the New York Times bestselling author of Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept comes an absorbing new novel about one woman’s resistance during an époque that shook Paris to its very core.
Paris, France: 1860’s. Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussman has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter the face of old Paris, moulding it into a “modern city.” The reforms will erase generations of history – but in the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a stand.
Rose Bazelet is determined to fight against the destruction of her family home until the very end; as others flee, she stakes her claim in the basement of the old house on rue Childebert, ignoring the sounds of change that come closer and closer each day. Attempting to overcome the loneliness of her daily life, she begins to write letters to Armand, her beloved late husband. And as she delves into the ritual of remembering, Rose is forced to come to terms with a secret that has been buried deep in her heart for thirty years. Tatiana de Rosnay’s The House I Loved is both a poignant story of one woman’s indelible strength, and an ode to Paris, where houses harbor the joys and sorrows of their inhabitants, and secrets endure in the very walls…
Rose writes letters to her deceased husband, Armand who has been gone 10 years. She is writing about the tearing down of the homes and shops on their street so the construction organization can widen the roads. This is going to change the face of Paris forever. Some of the neighbours and shop keepers are upset whilst others are not. Flower shops and bars can be moved to new establishments, but the doctor in the area isn’t happy and worries over losing all his patients.
Rose’s husband was born in the house she lives in as was his father and grandfather. The house was 150 years old and had seen several generations of Bazelets living there. “No one else but the Bazelet family had lived between these walls built in 1715, when the rue Childebert was created.” No siree, Rose had no plans whatsoever on leaving her beloved home. They could offer her all the money in the world, tear down around her, but she wasn’t budging! Rose continues to putter around her home, making tea, sewing embroidery all the while the men outside are hard at work demolishing.
When things get too close to her home, she takes to the basement and lives in the cold, drab dark where no one knows where she is except a lonely tramp of a man who brings her food and warm beverages. Rose, by candle light, pens her story to her husband Armand and reveals to him a secret that she’s kept her entire life.
Rose is a woman who possesses great strength and courage and is loved by everyone. She reminds me of the quintessential grandmother, one I’d love to have myself.
The House I Loved was beautifully written and was a gorgeous, loving, testament to the type of woman Rose was. I loved this book so thoroughly that I want to read it again.