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The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay
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The House I Loved (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Tatiana de Rosnay

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5323918,946 (3.18)22
Member:TessaSlingerland
Title:The House I Loved
Authors:Tatiana de Rosnay
Info:Pan Books
Collections:Read in 2012, Read but unowned, Engelstalig
Rating:***
Tags:Paris, Haussmann, destruction, love, 258 p

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The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay (2011)

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English (32)  Dutch (5)  French (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (39)
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
letters written by a woman with no ambition to her dead husband about their house that is to be demolished in 1860's Paris; painfully slow moving, thank goodness it wasn't long ( )
  Claudia.Anderson | Feb 7, 2016 |
“For you, houses are like people, are they not, they have a soul, a heart, they live and breathe. Houses remember.”

The house that Rose lives in is due to be demolished, as are the rest of the buildings on her street and the surrounding streets, to mould Paris into a ‘modern city’, according to Emperor Napoleon III’s plans.

She tells this in letters to her late husband Armand, along with fond – and sad – reminiscences of their past, how they met, their children, his death, and the life she slowly begins to rebuild afterwards, with help from Alexandrine (what a lovely name!), a young florist in the neighbourhood who brings such life with her.

This is interspersed with some letters written to her by various characters in her life such as her brother and her mother-in-law, which add a little more to the story. Yet those bits left me wanting more. To hear more from Alexandrine and her mysterious sad past, to have more love letters written by Armand before his death. These letters are too few and far between.

It is a rather odd story. I guess I was expecting Rose to fight harder for the house. She does, I suppose, in her own way, by staying in the house after her letters in protest and a visit to the Prefect’s office go in vain, and the street demolition begins. It’s a little bizarre, her reasoning. I’m not quite sure what she expects the outcome to be. And as the story progresses on that note, it becomes a bit depressing.

“The house bore the story of our love in its inner structure, in its quaint beauty. The house was my link to you, forever. By losing the house, I would again lose you.”

For her, the house means everything, as it is the one thing that ties her to Armand. He who loved the house, whose family had lived in this very house for generations, where his children were born and where his mother died.

Still, the book had its moments, especially some nice bookish ones. One of my favourite scenes takes place in a neighbourhood bookstore, recently renovated and which her late husband patronized (he was a reader, she wasn’t). The proprietor, a Monsieur Zamarreti, invites her to sit and read for a while. And even makes some suggestions. Eventually he picks a novel about a beautiful, bored lady, an avid reader of sentimental novels who “longs for romance and finds her marriage dreary”. That is, Madame Bovary. Rose expects to sit and flip through the book for twenty minutes or so but emerges from the story three hours later only when her housekeeper comes looking for her as it is past dinnertime.

As Madame Rose remains in her house, aided by a friendly ragpicker who keeps her fed and warm. She spends her time writing her letters to her late husband, and reading.

“My books, down here with me. Fine ones, beautifully bound, in all different colours. I do not wish to ever separate myself from them. Madame Bovary, of course, the one that opened the door to the bewitching world of reading. Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal, which I pick up from time to time as the hours glide by. The fascinating aspect about poems, as opposed to novels, is that one can read just a couple, and a few more later on, like a sort of continuous treat that one nibbles at. Monsieur Baudelaire’s poems are strange and haunting. They are full of images, sounds and colours, sometimes disturbing.”

A book that is filled with such sadness yet it has its heartwarming moments.

Originally posted on my blog Olduvai Reads ( )
  RealLifeReading | Jan 19, 2016 |
An epistolary novel written from the point of view of Rose Bazelet, a 60 year old women, determined to oppose the modernization, or destruction, depending on your point of view, of old Paris. The Emperor and his Prefect have crafted a plan to tear down much of the city to make way for the broad boulevards and buildings that now define Paris. While many were in agreement with their plans, the longer it wore on, the larger and more vocal the opposition became. Rose is a fictious example of this minority living on one of those very real streets, the Rue Childert. She tells the story of her life through a series of letters written to her husband who died a number of years prior.

I love de Rosnay's descriptions of Paris, of the house, and life at this pivitol time in French history. I felt that telling the story through letters was well-chosen and enjoyed reading Rose's ramblings and reminences as she spoke to her husband. The love between the two was palpable, as was the connection between Rose and the young flower girl Alexandrine. Yet I never felt emotionally invested in Rose's story, despite how both likable and sympathetic a character she was. I think that if I had felt a stronger connection to her this book would have been clear four star material, instead of leading to my waffling back and forth for a long time before coming up with a rating. Ms. de Rosnay continues to intrigue me with her storylines and how she tells the story of little talked about French history. Though this book left me wanting in the end, I can definitely say that I will be recommending it to others. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
Well written, but depressing. I was never quite convinced one could die for a house. ( )
  Lesley-Anne | Jul 24, 2015 |
Excellent. Anyone who hasn't read this author must!! ( )
  leahhenderson | Apr 18, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
. . . one gets the clear sense of a woman losing her place in a changing world, but this isn’t enough to make up for a weak narrative hung entirely on the eventual reveal of a long-buried secret.
added by Nickelini | editPublishers Weekly (Dec 12, 2012)
 
Can a novel make us nostalgic for a place we’ve never been? With her third English-language release, an uncomplicated story brimming with homespun details, Tatiana de Rosnay presents a convincing case. Nearly every sentence evokes the appeal of mid-19th-century Paris, the city she clearly loves, and her empathy for the citizens whose homes and dreams were obliterated by the march of progress.
 
De Rosnay’s delicacy and the flavor of her beloved Paris are everywhere in this brief but memorable book.

Replete with treats, particularly for Paris-lovers—indeed for anyone wedded to a special place.
added by Nickelini | editKirkus Reviews (Dec 29, 2011)
 
París, década de 1860. La ciudad está en pleno proceso de cambio, abandonando el París medieval para dar paso al París moderno y urbano. El barón Haussmann, prefecto de la ciudad, por encargo del emperador Napoleón III llevará a cabo las grandes ideas y estrategias de esta radical reforma.

Cuando Rose se casó con Armand Bazelet sabía que se unía al hombre de su vida. Su larga unión fue algo hermoso e inquebrantable. Pero hace diez años que Armand ya no está. Y a Rose tan solo le queda la casa, la casa donde nació Armand, y su padre, y el padre de su padre. La casa de la calle Childebert, antigua y robusta, solo habitada por generaciones de Bazelet, que ha albergado mucha felicidad y también tristezas, y un terrible secreto jamás confesado. Y le quedan sus vecinos, entre ellos la joven Alexandrine, capaz de aturdir y reavivar a Rose con su fuerte personalidad, sus maneras modernas y rotundas y su sincero afecto.
Por eso, cuando una carta con remite “Prefectura de París. Ayuntamiento” le anuncia que su casa y todas las de la calle serán expropiadas y derribadas para continuar la prolongación del bulevar Saint-Germain, siguiendo los planes de remodelación de la ciudad de París del barón Haussmann, Rose solo sabe una cosa: tal como prometió a su marido, jamás abandonará la casa.

Con el telón de fondo de la convulsa Francia del siglo XIX, Tatiana de Rosnay desarrolla un delicioso y conmovedor retrato de un mundo que ya no existe, de calles a la medida del hombre que albergan a personas que se relacionan, que desempeñan sus oficios unos cerca de otros, que se enfrentan y que se apoyan. Un libro inestimable que hace reflexionar sobre lo que la modernidad, en su necesario avance de progreso y mejoras, arrolla y relega al olvido. Poco estaremos avanzando si, en el camino, ignoramos el alma de las cosas.

added by LilianaL | editLibros Epub
 
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Epigraph
Paris slashed with saber cuts, its veins opened.

--Émile Zola, The Kill, 1871
The old Paris is no more (the shape of a city changes faster, alas! than the human heart).

--Charles Baudelaire, "The Swan," 1861
I wish for all this to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography -- to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings.

--Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient
Dedication
This is for my mother, Stella,

and for my House Man: NJ
First words
My beloved, I can hear them coming up our street.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
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...
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"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"-- Cover verso.… (more)

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