The day the letter came, a feverish panic hit our little street. Monsieur Zamaretti, the bookseller, and Alexandrine, the flower girl, came up to see me. They had received the same letter from the Préfecture. But I could tell they knew it was not so bad for them. They could start their business elsewhere, could they not? There would always be a place in the city for a bookstore and a flower shop. Yes, their eyes dared not meet mine. They felt it was worse for me. As your widow, I owned the place. I let out the two shops, one to Alexandrine, the other to Monsieur Zamaretti, as you used to. As your father did before you, and his father did as well. The income from the shops was how I survived. That was how I made ends meet. Until now.
It was a warm, humid day, I recall. The street was soon humming with all our neighbors brandishing the letter. It was quite a sight. Everyone seemed to be outside that morning, and voices rose vociferously, all the way down to the rue Sainte-Marguerite. There was Monsieur Jubert, from the printing house, with his ink stained apron, and Madame Godfin, standing outside her herbalist's shop, and there was Monsieur Bougrelle, the bookbinder, puffing away on his pipe. The racy Mademoiselle Vazembert from the haberdashery (whom you never met, thank the Lord), flounced up and down along the cobblestones, as if to flaunt her new crinoline. Our charming neighbor, Madame Barou, smiled sweetly when she saw me, but I could tell how distressed she was. The chocolate maker, Monsieur Monthier, appeared to be in tears. Monsieur Helder, owner of the restaurant you used to love, Chez Paulette, was nervously biting his lips, his bushy mustache moving up and down.
I had my hat on, as I never leave the house without it, but in their haste, many had forgotten theirs. Madame Paccard's bun threatened to collapse as her head waggled furiously. Docteur Nonant, hatless too, was waving an irate index. At one point, the wine merchant, Monsieur Horace, managed to make himself heard over the din. He has not changed much since you left us. His curly dark hair is perhaps a trifle grayer, and his paunch has no doubt swollen a mite, but his flamboyant mannerisms and loud chuckle have not faded. His eyes twinkle, black as charcoal.
"What are you ladies and gentlemen doing out here gabbling your heads off! Much good it will do us all. I'm offering the lot of you a round of drinks, even those who never come in to my den!" By that, of course, he meant Alexandrine, my flower girl, who shies away from liquor. I believe she told me once her father died a drunk.
From THE HOUSE I LOVED by Tatiana de Rosnay, copyright © 2012 by the author, and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press, LLC
Tatiana De Rosnay, the lauded, bestselling author of Sarah’s Key, takes readers back in time to 1860s Paris where Napoleon, seeking to modernize the city, has ordered the razing of hundreds of homes. But Rose Bazelet will not allow generations of her family’s history to go up in flames. As others flee, she defies the emperor’s henchman and stakes her claim in the basement of her old house on Rue Childebert.
The House I Loved is a poignant tale of one woman’s attempt to preserve a cherished place that bore witness to a multitude of joys—and sorrows. For as Rose allays her loneliness by writing letters to her beloved late husband, she is forced to confront a secret buried deep in her heart for 30 long years….
Hardcover Book : 240 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Press, LLC ( February 14, 2012 )
Item #: 13-532983
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.25 x 0.54inches
Product Weight: 10.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
As a starry-eyed Francophile and lover all-things Parisian, I really wanted to love this book but couldn't. First it was physically hard to read--the print (especially when in italics) made this a book that couldn't be read at bedtime since it required bright light, squinting, and strong decoding skills just to see what words were on the page. But the main reason I gave up on this book before finishing it is that it was simply uninteresting. I found myself becoming drowsy after less than a full page most times I sat down to read it. When I considered the books sitting on my shelf waiting to be read, I gave up on this book and didn't look back.
Reviewer: Steve A
A fascinating stroll through the Saint Germain des Pres neighborhood of Paris in the 1860's, before Baron Haussmann
was allowed to "modernize" Paris with his straight-lined
Grands Boulevards. Delightful character portraits and many ordinary happenings of the period are cleverly outlined in the several letters written by Rose
Bazelet to her deceased husband, while the destruction of her cherished Rue de Childebert is in progress. A well-written novel by Tatiana de Rosnay.
Reviewer: Robert P
I was really looking forward to reading her next book. Loved Sarah's Key and A Secret Kept. This book was really boring and long winded. It took everything I had to finish it, hoping it would get better. It didn't.