Title: 13 rue Thérèse: a novel
Author: Elena Mauli Shapiro
About: (pub. synopsis) American academic Trevor Stratton discovers a box full of artifacts from World War I as he settles into his new office in Paris. The pictures, letters, and objects in the box relate to the life of Louise Brunet, a feisty, charming Frenchwoman who lived through both World Wars.
As Trevor examines and documents the relics the box offers up, he begins to imagine the story of Louise Brunet’s life: her love for a cousin who died in the war, her marriage to a man who works for her father, and her attraction to a neighbor in her building at 13 rue Thérèse. The more time he spends with the objects though, the truer his imaginings of Louise’s life become, and the more he notices another alluring Frenchwoman: Josianne, his clerk, who planted the box in his office in the first place, and with whom he finds he is falling in love.
My thoughts: Imagine starting a new job in a new country and you discover a box of someone’s mementos in your new office. That’s what happens to Trevor Stratton. Something interesting occurs as he looks at each item: he seems to become part of the story of that item. I wish I’d read the book with a group because I’d like to get other interpretations.
Elena Mauli Shapiro’s novel is different from any I’ve ever read. Through her characters we experience the horror of war and the life of one interesting young woman. Scattered throughout the book are photos that depict the contents of the box. The story grows as Trevor examines each object. It is inventive, sensual, emotional and provocative.
This is a tough book for me to review as it is so unique but I will say I read it a few weeks ago and still think about it.
Recommend: Yes, especially if you’re looking for a different kind of novel. Check out the website at the link below.
Source: Reagan Arthur Books
You can read more about 13 rue Thérèse here