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.
I thought the premise of this novel was unique and interesting. It did keep my attention. But I was disturbed by the sensual and s*x content which grew as the novel progressed. There were a lot of images in the book of the objects Trevor found in the box. I liked that historical aspect of it. The book did jump around time wise which made some parts a little confusing. Otherwise the prose was fine. The ending had a twist I did not see coming and I do not quite know how I feel about it. It definitely left me speculating. No spoilers though from me. lol Some people will love it, some in the middle, and some won't. I am leaving it up to you to determine if its a book you would like. :)
About the author:
Elena Mauli Shapiro grew up in Paris, and currently lives in California with her husband. She has accumulated literature and writing degrees in and around the Bay Area (Stanford, Mills, Davis). Her novel 13 rue Thérèse will be published in February 2011. For more information visit Elena Mauli Shapiro’s blog.
Review copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review.