Reading: The House I Loved

Tatiana de Rosnay’s book, The House I Loved, is set in Paris during the destruction of much of the old city, and the creation of a modern Paris by Baron Haussmann. Rose Bazelet, the protagonist, writes letters to her departed husband, learns to be independent, and quietly refuses to leave during the destruction of her family home. The house on rue Childebert also comes to life, as the nurturing home her husband brought her home to, and, eventually, a bit of a prison. Told  in reflections written to her husband as she waits for the wreckers, and partially in confessions of new things discovered (reading, friendships with Alexandrine the florist and a Gilbert, the ragpicker). The story does not feel cramped even as Rose’s world disappears around her. Each story opens up new discoveries — Baudelaire, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary — as history slowly contracts around her neighborhood.

I enjoyed this book for the quiet writing of discovery and desperate loss, but above all else, love and friendship.

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