13 Rue Therese – Review

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13 Rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro
Age: Adult
Genre: Historical Fiction
Location: Paris
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co.
ISBN: 9780316083287
278 pages
Source: Public Library

Back cover synopsis:

Trever Stratton is an American professor and translator, newly arrived at a Paris University. There, in his office, he discovers a box filled with letters, photographs, and antique objects – a beautiful pair of gloves, a rosary, a silk scarf. Whose life is preserved here? And who has left this mystery for him to find?

I have seen glowing reviews of this book scattered around the blogosphere for a while now. Luckily, the reviews that I did read did not give away anything of the plot which left me pleasantly surprised with how the story of this mysterious box unfurled in Trevor Stratton’s life. Elena Mauli Shapiro did an excellent job of weaving in two parallel stories and bringing them together in the end. The first story is of Trevor Stratton and his discovery and subsequent analysis of all contents of the box. The second story is of Louis Brunet and of her life in Paris in 1928.

I found Trevor to be a really amusing character, especially with his struggles in translating the French documents and his constant fevers and colds clouding his judgement and perception of reality. Louis Brunet is a full-bodied and complex woman. Lusty, frustrated, intelligent and witty, full of energy with no real outlet. Even her worst transgressions didn’t bother me, I wanted to know more about her life and her story.

What I really didn’t expect was to find out that the author, born and raised in Paris, actually came into possession of a box of trinkets by the real life Louis Brunet. I didn’t realize this until after I had finished the book and read the author’s biography blurb. This book is based entirely on objects that are real and dear to the author’s heart. I think its amazing that she was able to craft such a wonderful story based on a real person that she knew so little about.

Book 24 of 2011

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Find this book at your local library
13 Rue Thérèse : a novel
 
 
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