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The house I loved
Tatiana de Rosnay
Adult Fiction ROSNAY

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Parisian Rose Bazelet is a woman in mourning, for her husband and son, both long dead; for her distant daughter; and because of Napoleon III's ambitious urban planning agenda in the mid-19th century, an enormous project that could destroy her beloved family estate. With the planners already leveling nearby houses, Rose hides in her cellar and writes letters to her deceased husband about her struggle to save their home. As the letters continue, and destruction grows near, Rose remembers her married life. With the planners "rattling about at the entrance" and taking her friend Alexandrine, who has come to rescue her, by surprise, Rose reveals to her late husband the dark secret she could never bring herself to tell him when he was alive. Though bestseller de Rosnay's epistolary narrative is slow to build, it's fraught with drama, as the Sarah's Key author aims to create an immersive experience in a hugely transformative period in Paris (see Paul La Farge's Haussmann, or the Distinction), when the city was torn between modernity and tradition. In Rose, 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. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

As Rose Bazelet hides in the basement of her Paris home, she can hear the rumble of advancing work crews destroying buildings to make way for the grand boulevards as envisioned by Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann. To pass the time, she writes letters to her late husband, recalling their life together and the decade since he died. In her widowhood, she is befriended by a flower shop owner, who becomes like a daughter to her, and a bookstore proprietor, who introduces her to literature. She mourns the destruction of her neighborhood's familiar narrow streets and rails against changes imposed in the name of progress. Because the novel depends on Rose's perspective and memories, the characters and settings are curiously flat. Her alienation from her own daughter and deep bond with the florist seem equally arbitrary. Even the basic premise of Rose's refusal to abandon the house seems implausible, especially after she reveals the secret of the violence she suffered there decades earlier. VERDICT A strong marketing campaign and interest from fans of de Rosnay's popular Sarah's Key will undoubtedly spur demand for the title. However, many readers will likely be disappointed by de Rosnay's latest Paris novel, which relies more on telling than showing. [See Prepub Alert, 8/12/11.]-Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State Univ. Lib., Mankato (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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