Sunday, July 10, 2011

Review: 13, rue Therese by Elena Mauli Shapiro

13, rue Thérèse: A Novel
Here is a quick summary taken from the author's website.  I know I usually summarize books myself, but I can't put it into words quite so nicely:
"Trevor 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?

The artifacts tell the story of the box’s owner, Louise Brunet, who lived in Paris through both world wars. Trevor is captivated by her tale; her unruly love for a cousin who died in WWI, her comfortable marriage to a man who works for her father, and her passionate attraction to a neighbor in her building at 13, rue Thérèse. But the artifacts tell just a part of the story. Trevor almost deliriously envisions the rest, consumed by thoughts of Louise. Or is it Josianne, his alluring assistant, who rules his imagination?

Memory, passion, and the mysteries of time are entwined in this enthralling novel, a book that transports us not just to Paris but into the mysteries of the past. Elena Mauli Shapiro’s first novel is a masterly exploration, intimate and dramatic, of the stories we imagine about others’ lives and the truths those stories reveal about ourselves."

Basically, I loved this book SO MUCH that there isn't anything I can say about it that will do it any justice whatsoever.  I am telling you now, JUST READ IT.  I adored it.  I read it in like 2 sittings.  What I really loved was the writing and how there are actual photos (yes!) of the items in the box.  It was great.  Elena Mauli Shapiro has such a unique writing style, and she is hilarious a lot of the time too.  What was even better was that after finishing the book, while reading the author information, I found out that all the items in the box were real items. 

So read the book because it is just SO beautiful.  And then read the bit at the end about the author.  I was so emotional, let me tell you.

I know I sound crazy because I'm so excited (still after finishing it like a month ago!) about this amazing book, but I definitely say you NEED to read it.

Now for a few fave quotes:
Pages 60 and 107 both contain proper French business lines to end letters with.  I know they are boring to most, but I took a French business class and had to painstakingly memorize these bad boys.  And let me tell you, they are a lot harder and longer than the typical English "sincerely...". 
-60: Je vous prie d'accepter, Cher Monsieur, l'expression de mes sentiments les plus distingues.
-107: En vous remerciant d'avance et dans l'attente et l'espoir de vous lire, veuillez agreer mes salutations les plus chaleureuses.
-79: Our shell shock and our thousand-yard stare-we are stunned into quiet by the images that cannot be erased and thus erase all else-our gaze so still and so quiet that it can be ignored, if you wish, you do not have to
listen to our silence.
Digging this trench so hard, the muscle fibers in our backs bursting with the hurt of this: our last ditch effort.
Our shell shock and our thousand-yard stare-
I gaze ever farther than that.
For miles and miles I stare, through everything and straight to you.  As I fight, I keep my eyes always on you: I cannot bear the stricken look on your face should you be told that I have died-
Your face-
it is the only reason I am still alive.

Can I also say real quick that I also loved the Moliere references.
Title: 13, rue Therese
Author: Elena Mauli Shapiro
Date of Publication: February 2nd, 2011
Number of Pages: 273
Genre: Fiction
Source: Personal Copy


  1. I really like the sound of this. Thanks for the review

  2. I so want to read this one!