The House I Loved
By: Tatiana de Rosnay
Hardcover, 222 pages
Published in 2012
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...
When I found out that Tatiana had written other books besides Sarah's Key, I immediately read the descriptions of the books and was suddenly hesitant. They were all historical fiction and, to me, they all sounded very similar to each other. I decided to check them out nonetheless and I do not regret in doing so.
I absolutely love how Tatiana De Rosnay was able to create an entirely different story and sense of atmosphere taking place in the past that is completely different from her other novels. This is not very common amongst many authors, and finding such a thing makes me appreciate and admire the author more. Let's go back to this specific story, though.
The House I Loved is about a woman living during the time France is starting to become more modernized. She narrates the story to us through the letters she writes to her deceased husband.
I also want to point out the age of Rose, the main character. A lot of the books that I have read are usually in the point of view of a character who is young. Rose is an aging woman (around age 60, if I recall correctly) that has experienced many things, and she uses her knowledge to give us more insight about the time and setting the story takes place in and the characters itself. Her character traits are also different. They are not the stereotypical traits you would see in a "heroic", girl main character (i.e. headstrong). Instead, you see a little bit of both. Rose can be weak at times, but determined and brave at some. She is sometimes stubborn, yet sometimes you see the more caring side of her. All in all, the journey you take with her as she tells her story leaves you wondering and not being able to predict what happens next.
This book also tore me apart. It is heartbreaking and sad. It shows you just how harsh life can be and that not everything is happy and bubbly. It also has mystery in it (in a historical fiction book? Wow!).
Tatiana never ceases to amaze me. I have also read A Secret Kept and recommend that as well. So basically, if you ever come across a book by Tatiana De Rosnay, get it.