“For you, houses are like people, are they not, they have a soul, a heart, they live and breathe. Houses remember.”
Tatiana De Rosnay, The House I Loved
The House I Loved, by Tatiana De Rosnay, was published in the US this month and is 222 pages. I’ve been a long time fan of De Rosnay. Her novels Sarah’s Key and A Secret Kept are some of my favorites, and this book is no exception.
At heart, The House I Loved is a love letter to a dead husband and old Paris, before Napoleon and Baron Haussmann completed their massive modernization efforts of the city in the 1860s. Writing from the basement of her empty house on Rue Childebert, widow Rose Bazelet prepares for its demolition by refusing to leave and penning a long confession reflecting on her upbringing, marriage, children, friendships, and tragedies.
From the moment I began The House I Loved, I was mesmerized by De Rosnay’s elegant, poetic style. I could almost hear Rose’s voice whispering in my ear from her candle lit hiding place in her beautiful old home. I could feel the encroaching machines rumbling toward the Rue Childebert while Rose struggled to get her confessions on paper.
Throughout the novel, Rose’s remembrances of relationships between lovers and friends are detailed in touching and surprising ways. An independent young florist, a persuasive book seller, a doting husband, a difficult daughter, a warm mother-in-law, and a selfless homeless wanderer are just a few of the characters so distinctly drawn they could walk off the page. Rose’s aching honesty is at times touching and others brutal, but it is always heartfelt.
If you enjoy beautifully written historical fiction full of secrets and nostalgia, you will devour The House I Loved. Tatiana De Rosnay remains one of my favorite contemporary novelists.
Here is a clip from the audiobook of The House I Loved from Macmillan Audio. I hope you enjoy it.