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From the artifacts in the box, Shapiro constructed this story. She is a likable character, but I wonder what her descendants, had she had any, would have thought about her fictional treatment. There is a time-travel element that is not quite gracefully handled as well. One wonders about the necessity of including Trevor Stratton at all. I love a good time travel story, but I wonder if this book might not have been better as strictly historical fiction. In addition, I would have liked to have seen the plot hang together a bit more tightly.

I think in the case of this particular book, I am probably just not the right audience because many reviewers seem to have liked it more than I did. The QR codes in the back of the book are a nice touch; they allow the reader to see higher resolution photos of the artifacts. I found the color images in the book sufficient.

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The book is a beautiful book, as well, with a gorgeous cover and thick creamy pages and a pleasant font. You might enjoy it if you like quirky French films. The nature of the story is quite choppy, told in vignettes that begin with the introduction of each artifact. Just as you get used to a narrator and his or her story, you jump to a different narrator in a different time and place. The lack of continuity makes this jumbled little story that much more obscure.

Adding to the mess are the footnotes, which provide translations of French sentences and other key reveals in the story.

They are less footnotes than asides and essentially require you to jump back and forth between them. The only problem is that these footnotes are not at the bottom of the page but at the end of the story. There is nothing worse than having to jump a few dozen pages or more just to find out what is happening. What I do like is the clever incorporation of the artifacts. There are images of every one of them, and they all look authentic. It is easy to imagine Ms. Shapiro taking her own box of letters, pictures, and other objects and using them to shape the story as she was writing it, for she is careful to include not just a picture of each but also adds a bit of commentary through Trevor about each one.

The pictures of these items around which the entire story revolves is actually more interesting than the story itself. This is because they show you a true humanizing image of life in France during and after the Great War. Honestly, I continue to struggle to understand what was happening most of the time for me to truly enjoy it.


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What I am able to glean from the story is not enough to make me want to puzzle out the rest. I just do not care enough to take the time to do so. I do love the artifacts and could have spent the same amount of time as I did reading the book just looking at their images. However, a quick glance at Goodreads makes me think this is an example of the wrong book at the wrong time. I do not hate it, but neither is it a novel I will recommend to others. The man in turn imagines a the life of the woman whose things are contained within. And that then leads him to a present day relationship with the very person who gave him the ephemera.

Oh this could have, should have been my kind of book. But the imagined life of Louise Brunet didn't work from the very get go.

Her scenes are written in a very stilted homage to French literary greats like Emile Zola and Gustave Flaubert. Except our modern day author doesn't otherwise write in their styles. It's not a smooth transition from old and new styles of writing either. It's awkward, painful and oft times dull. The book also includes color photographs of the things described.

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Book Review - 13, Rue Thérèse - By Elena Mauli Shapiro - The New York Times

There's an associated website listed to see them in higher resolution, giving this book an unfortunate Scholastic Books mystery feel 39 Clues and more recently TombQuest. Sure, there's a social media aspect to reading now but it's just a natural evolution of the in person book clubs and other word of mouth ways people have shared their favorite books since the rise of the novel.

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One might call it a visual rendering through language, culture, and sensible surprises. I call it a brilliant and tactile method of marketing. Home Groups Talk Zeitgeist. I Agree This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and if not signed in for advertising. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms. Members Reviews Popularity Average rating Mentions 32 60, 3. 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 Therese.

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.

No current Talk conversations about this book. A very different telling of the story of a woman's life. Rdra Aug 1, A young American translator settles in to his new office in a University in Paris. Review written June Different and intriguing,.

Book review: 13, rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro

Alphawoman Jun 11, This is going to be a review in which I damn a book with faint praise. You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data. Louise Brunet. Henri Brunet. Trevor Stratton. Josianne Noireau. Xavier Langlais.

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