#497 ~ The House I Loved

Cover of The House I Loved
The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay

Published by: St. Martin’s Press

Published on: February 14, 2012

Page Count: 240

Genre: Historical Fiction

My Reading Format: eBook purchased to read for book club

Available Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, and Audiobook

Summary from the Publisher

Paris, France: 1860s. Hundreds of houses are being razed, whole neighborhoods reduced to ashes. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussmann has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently alter the face of old Paris, molding it into a “modern city.” The reforms will erase generations of history—and 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.

My Review

I have wanted to read Tatiana de Rosnay for quite some time. There has been such good buzz about Sarah’s Key. I just haven’t had the opportunity to pick it up and read it. When my book club selected The House I Loved, I was thrilled. The premise of the book, dealing with the destruction of Paris neighborhoods to make way for modern transportation is fascinating. Unfortunately, my excitement did not last long after I started the book.

I did not care for Rose. Although to believe her stories and to accept the ending, one must believe her to be someone others cared for very much. I could not justify other people’s love and concern for her, so the story seemed week.  Likewise, her motivations did not seem particularly pressing or even interesting. In fact, given one unsurprising plot twist, I would expect her to be thankful to leave the house behind and be permanently rid of the ugly reminder. There were other twists, but they were equally transparent. Because I got off on the wrong foot with the novel, other irritations that would have either been overlooked or left unnoticed loomed large. For example, Rose is writing to her dead husband. In a similar situation, I wouldn’t expect to have to provide minute details like street names to him. He would know. He had been there. As the novel went on, these things grated on my nerves more and more. In a letter Rose wrote to her brother, she felt the need to point out that a) they grew up together and b) name that place:

Whilst I grew up, with you, in place Gozlin, I already cherished the fact that one day I was going to leave. (pg. 68)

I can only hope her brother’s response was, “Really?”

I cannot recommend The House I Loved. This book brought to light perhaps the biggest drawbacks of eBooks – you can’t throw them against the wall in a fit of rage. Not without the threat of having to pony up for a new eReader anyway. After reading this I’m no longer interested in reading any of de Rosnay’s other novels. I’ve got to believe that Sarah’s Key is a better novel, but there are so many books begging me to read them and sometimes an author only gets one shot with me.


  • At 2013.02.08 07:08, Heather said:

    I read Sarah’s Key a couple of years ago and really liked it. I have been meaning to pick this one up for some time now and keep forgetting about it. It’s good to know that I don’t have to feel bad about that. I think I’ll pass it over for a bit longer.

    • At 2013.02.08 09:17, Julie Merilatt said:

      Thank you! I t hink I liked it slightly more than you, but found it frustrating at times… I liked the historical aspect, but didn’t care for Rose…


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      • At 2013.02.08 09:22, Nise' said:

        I started this book on audio and didn’t like the way it was written. I had in mind to pick up it up in print to see if I had the same reaction, but I think I will pass.

        • At 2013.02.08 09:27, Judith said:

          Sarah’s Key, the movie and the book were great.

          • At 2013.02.08 09:38, Jennifer said:

            I didn’t enjoy this one very much either. Sarah’s Key was MUCH better.

            • At 2013.02.08 10:51, bermudaonion(Kathy) said:

              I’ve heard a lot about Sarah’s Key and loved the movie so I was excited to read one of de Rosnay’s books – A Secret Kept – and I felt the same way about it as you did about this one. I won’t seek this one out.

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              • At 2013.02.08 13:39, sharongracepjs said:

                This is pretty much exactly my response to Sarah’s Key – disappointment bordering on anger. The central plot was a great story idea, but executed with what seemed like such laziness on the author’s part, similar to what you identified here, like transparent twists, weak conversations. I actually have a great deal of resentment toward the author in a way I’ve never really been able to explain to myself! A reaction I’ve never before had to a mediocre book or one I didn’t enjoy.

                • At 2013.02.08 14:52, Jaime Boler said:

                  Thanks for being so forthright and honest about The House I Loved. I enjoyed Sarah’s Key, but life is too short to read anything but good books!

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                  • At 2013.02.08 17:07, Sandy said:

                    I didn’t love this book either. I listened to it on audio, with a good narrator, but that didn’t soften things. I guess the one thing I did like was the history. As for Sarah’s Key, I was conflicted. I’d definitely recommend it, because the parts about Sarah were fabulous and heart crushing. The modern portion about Julia really got under my skin in a bad way. Movie is good, and Julia wasn’t quite so obnoxious because it was played by Kristin Scott Tomas who I love.

                    • At 2013.02.08 17:31, JoAnn said:

                      I think I’ll skip this one…. and Sandy pretty much summed up my thoughts on Sarah’s Key.

                      • At 2013.02.11 06:46, Marg said:

                        Ouch! I have been meaning to try this author for years! Not sure what has been stopping me really. Maybe because I am not convinced that I will like her books.

                        • At 2013.07.16 16:39, The House I Loved | said:

                          […] my head became skewed by the plethora of reviews out there that veer from the complementary to the very scathing indeed. What to do?  Finding this slim volume at a cut price at Brierlow Bar and bearing our […]

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