13, rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro

One day, American academic Trevor Stratton finds a mysterious box in his new office in Paris. On opening the box, he discovers a treasure trove of letters, postcards, photographs and other items that once belonged to a woman called Louise Brunet. As Trevor lifts each object out of the box, he begins to imagine what Louise’s life might have been like…

13, rue Thérèse is like nothing else I’ve ever read. The book is uniquely presented, making it a joy to read. Each item found in the box is reproduced on the page for the reader to look at. Whether a letter, a photograph, a pair of gloves or a coin, every one of these objects provides us with a wealth of information about Louise and her family. With each illustration we are encouraged to look beyond the obvious and search for hidden clues; it’s surprising how much we can learn about a person just by the way they address an envelope, for example. I really liked this aspect of the book; the pictures really enhance the story and give a feeling of intimacy and involvement.

Louise was an intriguing character, although her behaviour was often uncomfortable to read about. I loved the way her history gradually unfolded as Trevor pieced together information based on the contents of the box.

I did feel slightly confused at times while reading this book. I wasn’t always sure who the narrative voice belonged to and I wondered what the significance was of Josianne, the woman who left the box for Trevor to find. But when I reached the end of the book and spent some time thinking about what I had just read, everything became a lot clearer.

13, rue Thérèse is an interesting mixture of history, romance and mystery – with a touch of magic. It’s not an easy read, but I would have no hesitation recommending it to anyone who’s prepared to try something very imaginative and unusual.

I received a copy of this book from Headline for review.

10 thoughts on “13, rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro

    • Helen says:

      It’s fiction, but apparently based on a real box of mementos the author’s mother received when an old woman who lived in their building died. I should probably have mentioned that in my post!

  1. FleurFisher says:

    I’m encouraged that you had positive things to say as, like Jo, I’d read some very mixed reviews. I love the concept and have been promised a copy from Headline too.

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