Tatiana de Rosnay at the American Library in Paris - "The House I Loved"

The long line of fans waiting to have their books signed by Tatiana de Rosnay at the American Library in Paris.

While wandering through the maze of narrow streets in Nîmes last weekend, I thought about how different it is from Paris, with its Grand Boulevards and row after row of homogeneous apartment buildings. Whether you approve of Baron Haussmann's modernization of the French capital or not, Tatiana de Rosnay's new book, The House I Loved, is sure to enthrall those who want to learn more about this fascinating period in history.

Although Mrs. de Rosnay's latest novel will not be released in the United States until February 14, 2012, I was fortunate enough to get a sneak preview of it when she read twenty pages of it at the American Library in Paris on Thursday night. The brief introduction to Rose, whose dead husband's familial home stands in the way of Haussmann's ambitious plans for Paris, left me yearning for more. Written in the form of a long letter to her beloved Armand, Rose recounts the emotional turmoil that she experiences upon learning that she must leave her home on rue Childebert because it is one of the thirty streets that will be completely razed to build the Boulevard Saint-Germain. Inspired by Charles Marville's old black and white photographs of an asymmetrical yet charming city, de Rosnay urges her readers to consider the price that former inhabitants had to pay "to air, to unify and to beautify" Paris.

For those of you who are fans of Mrs. de Rosnay's bestselling novel, Sarah's Key, you may like to know that the author wholeheartedly endorses the recent movie version of her book starring Kirsten Scott Thomas. Prior to making the film, the director assured her that he would not harm "her Sarah" and de Rosnay affirms that he was true to his promise. I'm happy that I haven't seen it yet because now I'll know to watch for the author in the restaurant scene, where she is seated behind Kirsten Scott Thomas.

If you can't wait until February to read Tatiana de Rosnay's latest novel, it is already available in French under the title, Rose.

As mentioned in previous posts, author events are a wonderful way to spend an evening in Paris. Be sure to visit the American Library's website or sign up for their e-newsletter to learn more about future programs.


Dating back to 1540, the Rue du Chat qui Pêche (Street of the Fishing Cat) in the 5th arrondissement escaped Baron Haussmann's reshaping of the capital. Considered by many to be the narrowest street in Paris, it measures 5.9 feet (1.8m) wide and 95 feet (29m) long.

Comments

  1. Sounds like an interesting book. I heard good things about Sarah's Key as well.

    Love the photos of the street. Is this the street where the book takes place?

    -nycgirl

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  2. Loved Sarah's Key (which I read in one sitting...until the wee hours) and the movie too. I bought a copy of Rose (in French) before I left Paris...should I dig in?!

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  3. nycgirl, After listening to Tatiana de Rosnay's reading, it's going to be very hard for me to wait until February. It's interesting that the novel is coming out on Valentine's Day. I guess that it's a good marketing strategy for all of the men with Francophile women in their lives.

    The street in the photos is in the Latin Quarter. I just added it to the post to show what some of the streets in Paris would have looked like pre-Haussmann. The book is set in Saint-Germain-des-Pres. The street on which Rose's house was located was one of the 30 that were destroyed to build the Blvd. Saint-Germain. On the website for the book, I noticed that there's a walking tour for people to "walk in the footsteps of Rose". I'm going to have to do it after I read The House I Loved.

    Anne, I was so tempted to buy the book in French but didn't want to read it with a dictionary in my hand. Please dig in and let me know how you manage. If it's not too difficult then I'll make an attempt.

    Sarah's Key was the first book that I bought when we found out that we were definitely moving to Paris. Like you, I read it in one sitting because it proved impossible to put down.

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  4. Like I need two more books on my bedside, but these sound like they would be worth the accumulation. (And you know I don't like clutter.)

    I love the Street of the Fishing Cat, but I prefer the open spaces of Haussmann's Paris.

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  5. I bet it will be in WH Smiths before it comes to the US. As usual the UK gets the jump on good stuff
    Sounds terrific

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  6. Wondering -- do any homes or businesses front on the Rue du chat qui peche? Seems as if it would be hard to even open a front door (out) or move anything down the street that a homeowner or shopkeeper might need!
    -maddietravel

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  7. Joseph, I still remember your helpful post on Spring cleaning books:
    http://www.josephthebutler.com/2011/03/spring-cleaning-books.html

    SInce I have a really hard time getting rid of books, my Kindle has helped cut down on the clutter. I was resistant to one at first but Stephane sneakily brought one home and encouraged me to use it. After reading one book on it, I was hooked. All of my Paris books are "real" books because I want to keep the English bookstores in business and because visitors like perusing the Paris bookshelves in our apartment.

    Carol, good point - I'll have to see when "The House I Loved" is going to be released in the UK.

    Maddie, I thought about you on Thursday night and wished that you could have been in Paris to hear Tatiana de Rosnay. One other thing that she mentioned about the filming of "Sarah's Key" is that it was rather difficult to watch the filming of the Vel' d'Hiv scene, especially because her children were in it.

    As far as I can remember, there aren't any homes or businesses on the Rue du chat qui peche. It's more of a passageway than a street and very easy to miss if you don't know where or what it is. The second photo gives a fairly accurate idea of the length of the street because I was standing near the entrance at one end and could easily see to the other end.

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  8. Thank you for this wonderful post and for letting us know about Ms. de Rosnay's next book. That's a fascinating topic she has chosen. I will definitely read it, and probably recommend it to my students, who always become so curious about the history of Paris while they are there studying literature!

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  9. wingedword, After writing this post, I went on a walking tour of the 2nd arrondissement, where our guide pointed out some of the locations of the old city walls and talked about how Hausmann changed the cityscape of Paris. I think that "The House I Loved" will be a very enjoyable way to learn about this period in history. We'll have to compare notes on what we thought of the book after it comes out in February!

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  10. Just finished The House I Loved! I love, love, love it! So artistically written; one of my very favorites.

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