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The House I loved by Tatiana De Rosnay

The Book:

Source for ‘The Book’ section : From Goodreads

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. 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…

The View:

“The House I Loved” is a letter written by Rose Bazelet to her deceased husband Mr. Bazelet. He loved his house and she has gotten to love it just as much. What sparks off this letter is Napoleon III’s decision to build a monument by tearing away homes that stood in his path. Thousands of people were rendered homeless; most of them chose to leave their past behind and just save themselves and their families-but they were the weak-hearted. Rose shows incredible strength when she stands up for herself and her beliefs. She was going to fight till the end and remains determined to not leave her house even if it meant giving her life in it.

The book has both letters and daily events thus giving us a detailed description of her life now and then. With simple letters and memories Rose takes us through a delicate tour of her life intact with all the emotions. The loss of her beloved son and her mom-in-law who she loved more than her mother impact her dearly and has the same influence on the reader. She reveals instances from the past that she never dared to tell her husband when he was alive and the emotions she dealt with when time she had a “not-so-motherly” relationship with her elder daughter.

The book is well-written, with simple detailed descriptions of characters, events and emotions. I loved the lead protagonist and empathized with her. There were a lot of things I learnt from the book (and you know I don’t say this often) – maybe because I am going through a fragile phase of understanding relationships right now or maybe just because the author managed to strike the right chord. I liked the plot and the characters immensely but felt something was missing as well. I needed more of certain events and characters and wondered why the author did not focus on certain key relationships – specially the mother / daughter one. How she met and bonded with some of her friends during her last few days was yet another thing I needed to know more about.

I prefer not to rate my books with decimals but I could not give this one a 4. Neither could I call it average and give it a 3. So for the clear capturing of everything the author meant to capture, I am rating this a 3.5 on 5.
Read this and if you are as lucky as I was, you would understand a lot more about yourself and the relationships you have with people.



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