Book Review: The House I loved

Why I picked it: Mostly due to author buzz, and the setting... who doesn't love the setting of Paris!

Synopsis: Paris, France: 1860’s. Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussman has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter the face of old Paris, moulding it into a “modern city.” The reforms will erase generations of history—but in the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a stand.

Rose Bazelet is determined to fight against the destruction of her family home until the very end; as others flee, she stakes her claim in the basement of the old house on rue Childebert, ignoring the sounds of change that come closer and closer each day. Attempting to overcome the loneliness of her daily life, she begins to write letters to Armand, her beloved late husband. And as she delves into the ritual of remembering, Rose is forced to come to terms with a secret that has been buried deep in her heart for thirty years. 

Quick Take: I do enjoy stories told with letters! The author did a beautiful job bringing historical Paris to us, the story a sad one though.  

I struggle sharing my opinion of this book. The plot didn't move much from set up to the last chapter, other than secrets being revealed along the way. It's a book that I enjoyed more after completing and having time for reflection.

Two questions (source: reading group guides):

1. One of the central elements of the novel is Rose’s deep and abiding love for the house in which she spent her married life, which becomes apparent from her many memories tied to every room. What does the house represent for Rose and how did it change her life?  I love the idea that she was so attached to her home and it's family history.  I remember reading a book years ago mentioning the concept of a 'forever home', something that has stuck with me over time.  I wonder if I will ever have a forever home.  Do I want one or am I'm interested in the idea of a forever community... 

2. Between the years of 1852 and 1870, Napoleon III and Baron Haussman remodeled major sections of Paris in an attempt to bring the city into the “modern” era. Did you know anything about this major period of time in Paris’s history before reading this novel? Have you read The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B.?  I learned SO much about the early 1800's which helped set the stage for Paris as described in this novel. I was in Paris last year, walking the streets, exploring, feeling the history. This helped me get the feel from words to the mood set within these pages.

Book clubs: Has your book club read this book?  Did you have a good discussion?  My book club might enjoy the genre but there's not a lot to discuss. 

Rating: 3 stars
Source: Library