In Paris, France in the 1860's, Emperor Napoleon III ordered the vitual destruction of his city. Neighborhoods full of history and nostalgia, charmingly winding their way through Paris were to be razed to make way for long straight boulevards designed by Baron Georges Haussman to modernize the city.
Rose Bazelet lived in her husband's family home on Rue Childebert since there were married. Her beloved husband has been dead 10 years, but Rose still clings to cherished memories of home, family and friends. She feels a strong loyalty not only to the house itself but to its tenants, neighbors, and friends. So much so that she writes letters to to her deceased husband, relating the destruction of their city, reflecting on their life together, and revealing an occasional secret that she has kept all these years. Rose dedicates herself to saving the house and quietly takes a stand, moves to the basement, refusing to leave, preparing for the eventual demolition.
The premise of this book may sound rather depressing, but it is beautifully and lovely written as only De Rosnay can write about her Paris. The House I Loved
is really a love letter, not only to a dead husband but also to a Paris of 150 years ago. This Victorian era Paris comes to life through the rich details of the book's characters and livestyles as well as of the streets of the city itself. If you enjoy historical fiction, you will love this book.