The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay is about a woman in Paris in the 1860s. Napoleon is Emperor, and he has decreed that whole streets must be torn down to make way for renovations. The rue Childebert is one of them, on which Rose Bazelet lives, and has since she was a bride. Her deceased husband grew up in her home, as did his father, and his father before him. The house is more than a house to them, it is a person, and she is determined not to leave it.
The book is mostly written in letters that Rose is writing to her deceased husband, but there are also letters every few chapters that are from various characters to Rose. She is remembering the past, her marriage and her motherhood, as well as telling the story of the present.
I unfortunately found the book not up to par to the other books that I have read by de Rosnay. Sarah’s Key is about the Holocaust, and A Secret Kept has a lot to do with family secrets and holding things close to you that are taboo. They were both very compelling reads, and I finished each book in a sitting. The House I Loved lacked the fast pace and passion of her previous two books. It was more deep than passionate. It was an old woman looking back at her life, and although it was well written, I didn’t feel an urgency to see how it ended. Part of the problem may also be that de Rosnay’s previous two books had more universal themes. Everybody knows of the Holocaust and how terrible it was Sarah’s Key showed it in a new light, from a new country, and it hit hard. A Secret Kept was just as universal; families and secrets and loyalty are things we all know. The occupation of France is not a subject as well known, at least not to me, and de Rosney did not capture the hopelessness that I am sure that they felt as well as she could have. I love this author, but this was not a great work by her.
I would recommend The House I Loved for somebody that may be more knowledgeable about the subject on hand. It was very well written, it just wasn’t fast paced and passionate as I hoped it to be,