The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay is a lovely book. It captures a magical essence of Paris set in the 1860's before the modernization and hustle and bustle most Americans believe Paris to be. It develops the essence of simple shops, flower gardens, bookstores with reading nooks, and home. Home in the sense of family, of generations lingering throughout wallpaper and tea sets to create the soul of a family; more than walls and mortar and brick and stone.
Madame Bazalet and her husband Armand met and fell in love on the beautiful streets of Pairs, particularly the rue Childebert. Their romance was sweet and kind, and upon marriage, they lived in the Bazalet family home with Armand's mother, just as generations of Bazalet's had lived before. Madame Bazalet bore her children there and conquered dark secrets in this home, and even though Armand's time expires before hers, she loves and cherishes the house on rue Childebert, the house she loves.
But, time marches on, and soon the new Prefect imposes his ideas for Paris upon long standing Parisians. This "time" will call for the destruction of many family homes and business all in the name of progress, of modernization. Those that have lived and loved in Paris now face upheaval and unrest as dust and construction and ruin settle upon their beloved abodes. Madame Bazalet cannot believe the lack of respect the new Prefect has for the men, women, and children that have created the Paris they know and love. Her principles of family, of home, of house on rue Childebert root themselves deep within her mind and her heart; she will not simply let this go.
The House I Loved is written in both narration and letters dipping in and out of Madame Bazlaet's current situation and the ideals she longs to embrace from a time before of her husband, her friends, her family. It is written with a quaint idyllic life in mind, one that begs our hearts to return to a simpler time. I enjoyed each character with its unique and fresh perspective of the changes occurring in Paris during this time. I believe Rosnay captures well the myriad of approaches each person takes to sudden change, to progress, to what seems to feel like catastrophe. This book is a quick summer read, light with deep undertones, like a fine painting that develops with great appreciation.
Tatiana de Rosnay is the author of several other novels, including Sarah's Key, a New York Times best seller published in more than forty languages. I will be adding this novel to my queue today! For more about Tatiana de Rosnay and her novels, visit her website at http://www.tatianaderosnay.com