The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay
Unabridged, 5 hr. 56 min.
Kate Reading (Narrator)
February 14, 2012
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Received from publisher as part of Audiobook Jukebox Solid Gold Reviewer Program
“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. 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...”
I think that my first comments about this book should be a warning – do not read this book thinking it will be like Sarah’s Key. The two books are written in an entirely different manner from each other and just because you liked one doesn’t mean you will like the other – sort of my situation. The only similarity is their ability to draw the emotions of the reader.
This book is essentially written as a very long letter from the main character, Rose, to her deceased husband in the lead up to their home ultimately being on the destruction list during France’s eminent domain struggle. I would say that this is more of a character study of Rose in particular and is full of emotions and self-revelations. There is not a lot of action occurring in the novel, even when she flashes back to earlier events – the emphasis is put on Rose and her emotions. With that being said, I couldn’t stand Rose. The choices that she makes throughout her life would not be those I would make and it made it very hard for me to respect her. Her whiney-ness grated at my nerves.
The overarching historical thread in this narrative is the fight over eminent domain in the 1860’s. Some of the characters support the revitalization effort of Paris and then there are those that done, such as Rose. It was an interesting aspect of French history that I was not aware of previously.
Overall, this story was just alright for me. The descriptions of the people and settings were vivid and the writing style was beautiful. I think my issue was with the characters – that I couldn’t identify with them that turned me off a little bit.
The audio presentation was well done. I appreciated the narrator’s French accent and pronunciation of all of the places within Paris. She also had a great pace to her speaking.
Here is an audio sample from the book.
Author Tatiana de Rosnay also has written Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept. You can visit the author’s website (FYI, it’s in French) for additional information about the books.
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Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court