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The House I Loved
by Tatiana de Rosnay

Published: 2013-01-03
Paperback : 0 pages
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16 clubs reading this now
11 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 1 of 4 members
Paris, 1869. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussmann has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently transform Paris into a modern city. In the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a ...
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Introduction

Paris, 1869. By order of Emperor Napoleon III, Baron Haussmann has set into motion a series of large-scale renovations that will permanently transform Paris into a modern city. In the midst of the tumult, one woman will take a stand.

Editorial Review

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

1. One of the central elements of the novel is Rose’s deep and abiding love for the house in which she spent her married life, which becomes apparent from her many memories tied to every room. What does the house represent for Rose and how did it change her life? By the end of the novel, it seems as though Rose views her house as the most important thing in her life. Although others would see the house as a possession, do you think Rose views it that way? Have you ever had this experience of loving a place or a thing as deeply as if it were a living person?

2. Baron Haussmann was described by his opponents as the "Atilla of the straight line" and "the Ripper Baron", nicknames that Rose approved of. But Alexandrine, the flower girl, does not agree, and has another point of view, that of a necessary progress that Paris badly needed. How do Rose's and Alexandrine's opinions differ and why? Whose do you feel closest to?

3. Rose loves her son Baptiste deeply, despite the fact that he was associated with an extremely difficult time of her life – and more than she seems to love their natural daughter, Violette. Why do you think this is? Do you think it’s true to life or even possible to love someone (or something) who comes out of intense hardship? Why or why not? Have you ever experienced or seen relationships like those which Rose has with each of her children?

4. Secrets are an important theme throughout The House I Loved. By the end of the novel, we learn that Rose has kept a devastating secret for her entire life from everyone she holds dear. How do you think it affects a person to keep such an important secret for so long? How did it affect Rose? Have you ever had a similar experience?

5. In a sense, Rose’s letters to her husband throughout the novel are her way of finally revealing her secret. Do you see any purpose in her telling the secret at this point in her life, with her husband already gone? Does it change or help her? And if so, how?

6. Between the years of 1852 and 1870, Napoleon III and Baron Haussman remodeled major sections of Paris in an attempt to bring the city into the “modern” era. Did you know anything about this major period of time in Paris’s history before reading this novel? What surprised or interested you about how Tatiana recreated that era?

7. How do you feel that Rose's secret past (the episode she hides from her husband and entourage) relates to what Haussmann, the "ripper Baron,” is doing to Paris? How exactly does Rose, in the final pages, describe her personal ordeal and compare it to Haussmann's tearing down of her home?

8. Flowers play an important part in this novel. Discuss what Rose learns through the flower-shop and Alexandrine's job as a florist. Pick out the rare roses and their names, and how Tatiana de Rosnay uses the symbol of roses and flowers throughout the book.

9. Alexandrine the flower-girl, and Gilbert, the ragpicker, are close to Rose, in different ways. Discuss the differences and similiarities of their relationship with Rose, of their secret past, of how they each try to help Rose.

10. The elegant Baronne de Vresse fascinates Rose with her fashionable crinolines and the balls she attends in Paris and Biarritz. Rose loves clothes and fashion, yet she strongly disapproves of the fashionable Emperor and Empress. Why do you think this is so? How does it speak to who Rose is as a character?

11. Rose discovers the joys of reading late in life. How and when does this happen? What is the first book she falls in love with? Who are the authors she most enjoys reading? Have you read them? How did you fall under the spell of reading?

12. If you have read Sarah's Key and A Secret Kept, Tatiana's previous novels, can you pick up a couple of themes that are common to all three books?



From the publisher1. One of the central elements of the novel is Rose’s deep and abiding love for the house in which she spent her married life, which becomes apparent from her many memories tied to every room. What does the house represent for Rose and how did it change her life? By the end of the novel, it seems as though Rose views her house as the most important thing in her life. Although others would see the house as a possession, do you think Rose views it that way? Have you ever had this experience of loving a place or a thing as deeply as if it were a living person?

2. Baron Haussmann was described by his opponents as the "Atilla of the straight line" and "the Ripper Baron", nicknames that Rose approved of. But Alexandrine, the flower girl, does not agree, and has another point of view, that of a necessary progress that Paris badly needed. How do Rose's and Alexandrine's opinions differ and why? Whose do you feel closest to?

3. Rose loves her son Baptiste deeply, despite the fact that he was associated with an extremely difficult time of her life – and more than she seems to love their natural daughter, Violette. Why do you think this is? Do you think it’s true to life or even possible to love someone (or something) who comes out of intense hardship? Why or why not? Have you ever experienced or seen relationships like those which Rose has with each of her children?

4. Secrets are an important theme throughout The House I Loved. By the end of the novel, we learn that Rose has kept a devastating secret for her entire life from everyone she holds dear. How do you think it affects a person to keep such an important secret for so long? How did it affect Rose? Have you ever had a similar experience?

5. In a sense, Rose’s letters to her husband throughout the novel are her way of finally revealing her secret. Do you see any purpose in her telling the secret at this point in her life, with her husband already gone? Does it change or help her? And if so, how?

6. Between the years of 1852 and 1870, Napoleon III and Baron Haussman remodeled major sections of Paris in an attempt to bring the city into the “modern” era. Did you know anything about this major period of time in Paris’s history before reading this novel? What surprised or interested you about how Tatiana recreated that era?

7. How do you feel that Rose's secret past (the episode she hides from her husband and entourage) relates to what Haussmann, the "ripper Baron,” is doing to Paris? How exactly does Rose, in the final pages, describe her personal ordeal and compare it to Haussmann's tearing down of her home?

8. Flowers play an important part in this novel. Discuss what Rose learns through the flower-shop and Alexandrine's job as a florist. Pick out the rare roses and their names, and how Tatiana de Rosnay uses the symbol of roses and flowers throughout the book.

9. Alexandrine the flower-girl, and Gilbert, the ragpicker, are close to Rose, in different ways. Discuss the differences and similiarities of their relationship with Rose, of their secret past, of how they each try to help Rose.

10. The elegant Baronne de Vresse fascinates Rose with her fashionable crinolines and the balls she attends in Paris and Biarritz. Rose loves clothes and fashion, yet she strongly disapproves of the fashionable Emperor and Empress. Why do you think this is so? How does it speak to who Rose is as a character?

11. Rose discovers the joys of reading late in life. How and when does this happen? What is the first book she falls in love with? Who are the authors she most enjoys reading? Have you read them? How did you fall under the spell of reading?

12. If you have read Sarah's Key and A Secret Kept, Tatiana's previous novels, can you pick up a couple of themes that are common to all three books?

From the publisher

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

Note from Tatiana de Rosnay:

Between 1852 and 1870, Baron Haussmann transformed Paris. Born and bred a Parisian, I love my city, like most Parisians do. But I have often wondered what it must have been like, as a Parisian, to witness those changes. And what it must have meant to lose a beloved house, like Rose, my heroine does.

This is the story of Rose's fight to save her house, and how each room of that house tells a story.

And this is the story of a secret Paris, gone forever.

Reviews:

"A seductive, suspenseful, and trés formidable keeper." --Publisher’s Weekly

"De Rosnay’s writing is eloquent and beautiful, and her characterizations are both honest and dead-on." –Kirkus

“In A Secret Kept, Tatiana de Rosnay takes us on a journey to that haunted place where the past seeps into the present, where memory appears and disappears, and where healing seems always out of reach. With her lyrical prose and her gift for creating deeply sympathetic characters, de Rosnay has given us a hopeful story, as addictive as it is moving.” --Diane Chamberlain, New York Times bestselling author of Summer’s Child

"A Secret Kept is a beautiful and haunting exploration of wanting - and not wanting - to understand one's past, of learning to see parents as individuals, whether the parents in question are our own or ourselves." –Erica Bauermeister, bestselling author of The School of Essential Ingredients

“A riveting tale of family, relationships, and the eerie power that memory holds over our present lives. The story gripped me from the moment that I opened the book, for it is told with incredible sensitivity and depth.” –Katherine Howe, New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

Book Club Recommendations

French Bistro
by MissLa (see profile) 04/26/13
The only good thing about this book was it prompted our bookclub to go to a French restaurant. The fabulous meal made up for the not so fabulous reading!

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by gallup40 (see profile) 12/09/17

 
  "Multi-themed story told in epistolary style"by zodejodie4 (see profile) 06/11/17

Told largely in epistolary style & with de Rosnay's beautiful writing, this story about the redevelopment of Paris touches on many themes, that of home, of connection, of love for buildings, architecture... (read more)

 
  "didn't finish"by MissLa (see profile) 04/26/13

No one in our book club really liked it. Half of us didn't even finish it. There are too many good books out there to waste time on bad ones!

 
  "So So"by kraabelsk (see profile) 12/06/12

Had trouble identifying with the main character.

 
  "The House I Loved"by aoconh (see profile) 12/05/12

 
  "The House I loved"by 090537 (see profile) 02/21/12

A lot of it is letters written to her dead husband. About streets in Paris being torn down for big avenues. Just ok.
Sarahs Secret was a good book. The 2nd and 3rd were just ok.

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