Paris, 1869, the Emperor Napoleon III has decided the city is in dire need of renovation, and has ordered hundreds of houses, entire neighbors and city blocks, to be condemned, so that Paris can be turned into a truly modern city.
Rose Bazelet, a silver-haired widow of sixty, is determined to save her come on the rue de Childebert. It has been in her husband’s family since it was built in 1715, her children were born there, and she has spent her entire married life there and derives an income from the shops she rents on the ground floor. As the rumble of destruction draws nearer, and the floor shakes under her, she hides in the basement and writes letters to her late husband, Armand, reminiscing about their life together, recalling her wonderful mother-in-law who embraced like a daughter, so different from her own self-centered mother, the daughter she never bonded with, and the beautiful golden-haired little boy she lost to cholera, and her husband’s descent into illness that later claimed his life, and the shameful secret she has harbored for so many years. She is determined to die with the house since she cannot save it.
I enjoyed this novel, I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and stories of families and secrets. I would also recommend it to those who like these kinds of stories but don’t like the big door-stopper sized books. This one is quite short and a quick read.