The House I Loved
Rose Bazelet will not give up or leave the one thing she loves more than anything in the world, the house she loved. As the story opens we learn that Napoleon III has a plan of his own along with his Prefect, Baron Haussman, have decided to tear down and rebuild a newer and more modern Paris to their specifications. But, Rose Bazelet will not leave her own and has locked herself away in the confines of the basement of her home and refuses to leave. Napoleon III’s dream is to create a Paris filled with magnificent boulevards, eliminate the small and beautiful winding streets and pay many of the shop owners and home owners to relocate to another part of the city. But, Rose Bazelet’s voice is heard throughout this novel as she recounts the events in heartfelt words spoken in letters to her late husband, Armand. The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay depicts the life of this woman who for her time was strong, determined and definitely defiant refusing to give up what she so rightly owned. Rose lived in her husband’s family’s home on rue Childebert. As hears the sounds of those coming to destroy and tear down her home she spends her remaining days or hours reliving her past. Beginning with a group of woman and shop owners on the streets and discussing their plight. Some thinking lawyers will help and others realizing they could not and knowing the Prefect would have the final word. But, in the background she hints of a terrible nightmare that plagued her for 30 years that her husband never knew about as someone came into her room and the rest will be revealed later one.
Progress brings change. A new and more modern town, germ free water, public lighting and no more cholera so why was Rose fighting it and standing her ground? Rose would not accept the one thing that made her husband feel safe and secure the loss of his home. As she continues and hears the sounds have stopped and she suddenly feels safe but for how long. Many of the shop owners will take the money offered but is not about money to Rose. As Rose tells the story in her cold and empty house you can feel the chill within the walls. Telling the story in journal or letter from she sits quietly with quill in hand writing the story of her life for the reader to hear. Armand started to slip away but as with all memory losses as he must have had Alzheimer’s although not named it but dementia back then, she reveals her secrets and explains her love for him even though he did not really understand. One other voice is heard and that is of Gilbert who visits her as she relates to him and her late husband how they met. When her mother remarried she relates how she never really cared for her or her brother yet when she met Armand’s she was accepted as her daughter. As Rose recounts her feelings for Armand in a beautiful journal entry and we also hear the voice of Armand tell of his love for her. The author flashes back to their life together and then to her feelings in the present about what is inevitable. Next, you hear the voice of Odette Bazelett her mother in law as she tells Rose how special she is to them, how she brought the sunshine into their lives and how wishing she had met her soon. The letter on pages 57-59 will bring tears to your eyes as it did mine.
The sadness within her words is paramount as she relates the nightmare that tormented her, the intruder within and the lack of love between her and her daughter. Although her grand children hope for her to come and stay with them Rose would never give in. Furniture gone, belongings delivered to her daughter’s home Rose is steadfast in her ways. There are so many voices heard within the pages of this story. Each voice telling their own story and proclaiming their relationship with Rose as we learn more about her brother Emile. Emile lost his home to the renovations years before and now he tells her how he sympathizes with her situation. Explaining to her that where she lives is not sage and that she needs to move out, but Rose knows only what is in her heart.
The author then relates her relationship with her daughter and her feelings along with the trembling in her fingers writing down her inner most thoughts as she relates her fears knowing that someone had invaded her home. Moving on to his death, her loyal Germaine who helped get her through the grief. Mariette crying along with her taking care of Rose the entire time as we hear from Violette her daughter. Letting her know that they have found a small house nearby for her to live and have become alarmed that she has yet to arrive. But, Rose does not care for her daughter and there is no love lost as she shutters at the sight of her writing and her letter. Next, we learn about Baptiste her son and her feelings for him as she preferred him to her daughter and she relates why.
She is alone in the house and screams. No one is there yet she is hidden away in the basement as she tells of the death of her son and you hear Armand’s voice once again. Gilbert is sharing her thoughts and her dreams as she continues her story. The woman in the flower shop is close to her and the man in the bookstore provides her income. As the reader reads a letter from the woman that owns the flower shop you learn of the love she had for Rose and that of the others that frequented it too. Take the journey along with Rose within the walls of the house she loved, the bookstore that was filled with pale blue walls, armchairs and so many books to read and then close your eyes and smell the roses and flowers with Alexandrine’s shop and picture Rose in the middle of it all.
A nightmare that haunted her dreams and realities and an ending you will have to learn for yourself. From the edict to knock down many houses and businesses to the protestors hoping for a final reprieve author Tatiana De Rosnay takes the reader on journey to the streets of Paris before the world was changed and to the end where things would never be the same. When Rose states that sometimes when reading one book it leads to reading another how true as I finished one and had five more to read and this one I could not resist. The final step a letter to the Prefect, which I will not reveal to you. The intruder revealed and the ending a true surprise and what happens to Rose and one other you will learn when you read The House I Loved. Read the last entry and understand what really happens as Rose stands her ground. A very heart wrenching novel with a central character that you have admire and love. Some things are worth more than money. Rose loved Armand and this was her final tribute to him and his family. As the author takes you back in time decide whether you would do the same.
I GIVE THIS BOOK FIVE PINK ROSES
Fran Lewis: reviewer
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