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13, rue Thérèse

3.05  ·  Rating Details ·  1,314 Ratings  ·  329 Reviews
American academic Trevor Stratton discovers a box full of artifacts from World War I as he settles into his new office in Paris. 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
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Published February 2nd 2011 by Reagan Arthur Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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I really enjoyed this book. The concept for the plot is unique, the characters are interesting, and the setting, Paris in the early 20th century, is right up my alley. It's a bit odd, the story and the characters both, so it's one of those love or hate books. But as I said, I enjoyed it, it's just not going to be for everyone.
OK, so you grow up downstairs from an old widow. At her death, the landlord lets other tenants go through her things, as he can't find any relatives. Your mom takes her box of memories--photos, letters, mementos. You grow up and decide to write a novel that is the story of this storyless-since-her-death box of objects. That's what happened to the author. Supposedly anyway.

Interesting, yes? Clever and unusual, yes?

It started out so promising. But then Shapiro turns this old woman (who is young as
Apr 01, 2012 Mitch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is unlike anything I have ever read before. Bizarre and at times confusing, yet always enthralling. Only a French woman could devise a tale so unique and lovely as this! Props to Elena Mauli Shapiro! Now, I must say, this book isn't for everyone. It's quirk factor is FULL HILT and some people may not understand or appreciate that. It sort of reminds me of the style of Woody Allen's movie "Midnight in Paris".

The big plus of this book is that it contains a LOT of pictures. The main char
Jan 20, 2011 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gift.

This special book got me out of a reading funk I had a few months ago. It came to me wrapped in beautiful paper with a note from the editor, Reagan Arthur. I opened it, hoping to discover something new and exciting. What I didn't realize at the time was that I would spend the entire 270 pages unwrapping this precious gift.

Each page brought something new - a photograph, a letter, a piece of fabric from a life of a woman I would never meet, a woman that was not even real, but a woman whom
Jun 05, 2011 Adriana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: justread
O.k. I admit it. I am partially biased towards this author since I know her. Nonetheless, I would not give five stars if I did not think this book is a good piece of literature. Shapiro takes the pieces of an actual Parisian woman's life during WWII and gave her life again to help give a perspective on how people lived and behaved during World War II and its aftermath. It is clever and witty to draw anyone in and make them think differently about how people acted during a difficult time. There a ...more
I'm not sure what I just read, and I'm equally unsure whether I liked it. It is, as the back cover states, a puzzle story, and I'm not sure what I make of it. I found it disorientating, often unpleasant -- I didn't like Louise, and I found myself doubting the existence of all of the characters, wondering who was making up who and what.

The actual concept is fascinating to me, but the execution just left me confused -- and often, not at all sure I wanted to stay in the headspace of the characters.
Jul 24, 2011 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A novel spun around an inherited box of mementoes, gathered over the course of a life.

It sounded lovely but I thought it might be just a little predictable. I found though that it was anything but.

"She will give him the office with the tall, useless empty file cabinets in the corner. He will probably not think to open all the drawers and look at them his first day on the premises. But he will, eventually, discover a box tucked all the way into the darkness at the back of the bottom drawer, innoc
2.5 stars. I'm not as taken with this book as the handful of other reviewers so far. I was led to believe I'd find a puzzle here, but it's really a collection of scanned objects that give hints to a life in which our author fills in the lost details. Interesting, to a degree, but failed to keep me devoted throughout. How do these damn epistolary novels keep landing in my hands?! This was definitely better than The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, as the writing was not quite as con ...more
I adored this book! It took me a while to get into this one, but once I did, I was completely drawn to the sketched characters and objects documented within.

I can't begin to describe the plot, because it is best to just let the segments wash over you and not concentrate on "where is this going?" but rather to just enjoy each chapter and moment as it comes. The story as it comes together deliberately leave holes, and after I would set the book down for the evening, I would spend some time filling
The narrative was entertaining but I mostly hated the writing style ("Do you want to see what's on the back of the postcard? Go ahead, flip it over!" Blaaaaaaah.) And the pictures. They annoyed me, though I understand their purpose. I love the IDEA of the book--telling a story with found objects--I just didn't like the execution.
There is a lot going on here. A lot. Is it possible to hate a novel while admiring it? Wavering between such extremes from chapter to chapter? Respecting the author for her ingenuity while often doubting her acuity? Being in awe of her prose one moment but questioning her graduate degrees in writing at another? Apparently it is.

First and foremost, experimental approach the author took may have been fun for her, but the result is a novel that will be either beloved/hated. Close to a cult followi
Jun 03, 2012 Marty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ctmh-challenge
This was a strange and wonderful little novel. It was created around a box of artifacts that the author acquired from the apartment of an elderly woman who died without any relatives to claim her belongings. Out of the postcards, letters and various objects in the box, Shapiro weaves a story of the fictional Louise Brunet, who lost the love of her life in WWI. The box is passed on to Trevor Stratton, an American professor and translator, by his secretary, Josiane. Trevor sets about recreating th ...more
Jun 14, 2011 Kathy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-read
OK, OK, LOVED this one!! Sorta spooky/weird at the end, but the story, characters & settings were just so wonderful. This is probably one book I'll break down & buy to have in my library.
Nov 29, 2012 Satch rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From my blog for my book club:
On November 21, the International Fiction Book Club met for the 31st time to discuss the novel 13 rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro. Ms. Shapiro lived in Paris until she was 13 years of age and then moved to the States with her family. Though written in English, this novel is entirely French, both in setting and character of style. I say character of style because it is through a peculiar style that characters gradually emerge. Or do they only seem to emerge?
Mar 03, 2011 Frank rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Frank by: New York Times Book Review
Josianne, the departmental secretary of an unnamed university in Paris, is in charge of allocating office space to new professors. She gives Trevor Stratton, a visiting American, "the office with the tall useless empty file cabinet in the corner." But in that useless filing cabinet, she also leaves a small box of mundane artefacts for him to discover at his leisure; a box which proves to tell a remarkable story.

Stratton becomes obsessed with the artefacts, and what he is able to learn about the
This was indeed the strangest book I think I have ever read, but I do believe it would make an excellent book club selection as there would be a great deal to talk about from the strange premise of the book to the odd way in which it was written.

The backstory for this novel is important. A neighbor of the author who lived in Paris where the book is set died without any family. Everyone in the building basically looted her apartment. The author's mother took a box which contained nothing of value
I knew before I read 13 Rue Thérèse that it was going to be good. I have yet to be disappointed by anything from the same imprint. I wasn't sure exactly how the story would go, though, and I found it utterly fascinating.

Trevor Stratton's discovery, the box of artifacts, the gift given by Josianne, is no ordinary collection of keepsakes. As Trevor goes through the objects, reads the letters, and learns more about the life of the long-dead Louise Brunet, it becomes difficult to tell whether he pos
Janine Flood
This book was lovely and enchanting and mysterious and erotic and truly unique. Jeffrey picked it out for me because he thought it looked like my kind of book. He was right. It's interesting that I read this book back to back with "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" because both are inspired by actual found objects. And although Ms. Mauli Shapiro's story is grounded in realism, her story is so much more colorful and so much more unique than "Miss Peregrine's" which is a fantasy novel. ...more
May 25, 2011 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: novel lovers; mystery lovers; women
This is tough book to review, because it is structured in a way that I think some readers wouldn't like at all. It is a fascinating book, though, because it's not until the end that the readers actually gets an understanding of what's been going on. I'm not going to spoil the book by putting in a lot of details, but I must say that the story verges on being a bit too descriptive about the characters' sexual feelings and thoughts; the author is very descriptive about these, indeed.

The book really
Apr 04, 2011 ☮Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My husband picked this book out for me because of the title and the cover, and wow! I found it to be a delight and quite unique. The author has had a box of mementoes for some time, salvaged from a neighboring apartment years ago, and now she has woven a story about the items in that box from her own imaginings. In doing so, she creates a quick little read about love and war, but don't let that make you think it is not thought provoking or entertaining. Also, the color scans and flourishes on th ...more
I really loved the concept of this book: a novel is based on a box of actual artifacts the author obtained from her childhood neighbor. There are pictures of the items in the book so these were great visuals. Unfortunately, the story wasn't as charming as the items. The character development was quite lacking and I felt nothing toward any of the characters. The plot was shallow as well. All in all, I am glad that I finished it but it will be remembered more of a book I quite disliked!
Jan 07, 2013 Irishmaddoc rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it, loved it, loved it! A really good idea blending real people and artefacts with a fictional story. It's the kind of thing I've done in a coffee shop, what's the story with the guy tapping the table or the couple not talking to each other? Got a bit steamy in places but there's nothing wrong with that!!

I am so confused.

The plot itself isn't confusing, it's rather straight-forward actually: in the modern day a box is passed onto a scholar who then delves further into a bundle of letters and other mementos from the world war period. It's essentially a story piecing together the life of the woman that these memento's belonged to. What's interesting is that the box and it's contents are based off an actual box found by the author and she created a story from that.

What I did find confusing was h
Angie Fehl
Originally published in 2011, this story has a somewhat similar feel to Ransom Riggs' Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children (published in 2013). It incorporates historical photos and photos of actual objects woven around a fictional story to give the reader an entertaining and almost interactive experience.

It opens in modern times, later incorporating a tale of historical fiction. A Frenchwoman by the name of Josianne has a box of mysterious artifacts and bits of ephemera which, over the
SIMON Karine
Tout d’abord, je tiens à remercier, Les Editions Michel Lafon, ainsi que Livraddict, pour ma sélection pour ce partenariat, et pour l’envoi de ce livre.

13, rue Thérèse, est un roman dont l’intrigue se passe à Paris à notre époque, mais aussi au début du 20ème siècle, dans une période allant de la Grande guerre (1914 -1918), à l’entre-deux guerres (les années 20, début des années 30).

Il s’agit d’un roman épistolaire, et je dois dire que ça m’a grandement perturbé dans ma lecture, pourtant ce n’es
Jan 05, 2017 Beverly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Kind of an interesting idea -- sort of a variation on the time traveler deal. But got a bit tedious.
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
13, rue Thérèse is being talked about as a puzzle novel - with plenty of pictures and puzzles, and a narrator who tries to piece them together. Not quite unlike a suspense thriller, but this one is set in a totally unique setting and the story is told in a very unusual way. American Professor, Trevor Stratton, has just arrived in Paris to teach, and finds in his new office a small box full of artifacts from the WW1 period. His secretary placed them there for him to feast his research-oriented mi ...more
This is going to be a review in which I damn a book with faint praise. For starters, the synopsis makes this seem like a much more simplistic story than it is. Then again, perhaps I read the book incorrectly. Yes, it is a story about Trevor Stratton going through this mysterious box of artifacts, flashbacks to Louise Brunet’s life, and his growing interesting in Josianne. However, what I got from the story was a muddled story that bordered on magical realism as the lines between imagination and ...more
Jan 28, 2011 Cassandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not sure what it is about Paris and people finding lost boxes full of people’s memories. The first time I noticed the phenomenon was in the film Amelie. She locates the owner of small box she finds and returns the treasures from his boyhood to him anonymously. Author Elena Mauli Shapiro finds a box in the apartment above hers, but she has no one to return it to. Instead, she brings new life to the items found by building new memories around them.

Trevor Stratton is an American professor visit
What an interesting concept for a book! In terms of form, 13, rue Thérèse is unlike anything I’ve read, with the possible exception of Mark Z. Danielewski’s 2000 bestseller House of Leaves (note to self: re-read that one for a review!). Though Shapiro isn’t easy on her readers—the novel is nonlinear, incorporates photographic images, fraught with footnotes and encourages online interaction—13, rue Thérèse is nonetheless a compulsively readable page-turner. Though not without its missteps, Elena ...more
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Play Book Tag: 13, rue Therese - Elena Mauli Shapiro - 3 stars 1 7 Jun 08, 2016 01:05PM  
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I was born in Paris, France, and moved to the United States at the age of 13. I’ve amassed several degrees in literature and writing around the San Francisco Bay Area (Stanford University, Mills College, UC Davis), where I still live with one scientist husband and two elderly half-Siamese cats who spend all day following sunbeams around the house. I am the author of two novels, 13 RUE THERESE and ...more
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“A translator, caught in the space between two tongues. Such people tend to come a little bit unglued from the task of trying to convey meaning from one code to the other. The transfer is never safe, the meaning changes in the channel — becomes tinted, adulterated, absurd, stronger.” 5 likes
“...all the men in the photograph wear puttees. All the men in the picture are bound, trying to keep themselves together. That is how considerate they are, for the love of God and country and women and the other men--for the love of all that is good and true--they keep themselves together because they have to. They are afraid but they are not cowards.” 4 likes
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