13, rue Thérèse
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13, rue Thérèse

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3.05 of 5 stars 3.05  ·  rating details  ·  1,023 ratings  ·  268 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...more
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Published February 2nd 2011 by Reagan Arthur Books
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Dree
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...more
Nikki
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....more
Kathrina
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
Alison
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...more
Adriana
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
Christena
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.
Mitch
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...more
Jane
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...more
Kate
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...more
Marty
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
Leah
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...more
Frank
Mar 15, 2011 Frank rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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...more
Virginia
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...more
Vickie
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!
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
☮Karen
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
Krys
I was given this book over a year ago by a friend and left it sitting lifeless on the shelf. In the midst of my currently drudging workdays I had noticed sometime in the past year I had moved it - I believe with intent to dispose of - to my car in which it sat teeming with eagerness until I was finally seduced into picking it up so I may have something to read on my offtime at work. Little did I know what an enthralling scandal I was about to partake.

My thighs steamed while I fell into place, i...more
Delma

I really liked this book. It's different. I love the story behind it. When the author was living in at this address in Paris during the 1980s, an old woman that lived in the apartment building died. Having no relatives, the landlord allowed the other tenants to scavenge through her stuff. The author's mother salvaged a small box of mementos. The box contained old love letters from WWI, mesh church gloves, a rosary, dried flowers and photos. The author kept the box and wrote the story to go with...more
Jane
I was intrigued by the premise of this book: it is based on real letters and other keepsakes in a box claimed by the author's mother when a woman living in their apartment building died and had no relatives to inherit her belongings. Other neighbors took the silver, china, and things with obvious value. The author's main character is put in a similar position of running across the box (in his case it's in the file cabinet of an office where he works as a visiting scholar--planted there by the se...more
Irishmaddoc
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!!
Kathy
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.
Satch
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?
Fren...more
Leslie
This beautifully written and illustrated book is a magical tale woven around a box of artifacts owned by the author. They tell the story of Louise Brunet, a woman who lived in the early part of the 20th century, as imagined by Trevor Stratton, an American academic working in present day Paris.

Trevor discovers a mysterious box of letters and mementoes in his office that was secretly left there by his secretary. He becomes enchanted by the objects; old love letters, notes, faded photos, pieces of...more
Chuck Erion
13 Rue Therésè is a Pandora’s Box of a book, published Feb, 2011, by Little Brown ($26.99). Inside are reproductions of old photographs, lace gloves, jewelry and other memorabilia. I first turned to the afterword to learn that the author, Elena Shapiro, as a child in Paris in the 1980s, was given a box of these objects and letters that had belonged to Louise Brunet, the late occupant of the apartment above theirs at 13 rue Therésè. When Louise died the landlord, unable to locate any relatives, i...more
Amy
I am very picky about the books that I buy. I rarely buy books on impulse anymore. However, I bought this one sight unseen. The premise sounded so intriguing and I decided I had to give it a shot. Back in the early nineties, I was a huge GRIFFIN AND SABINE fan. I loved the stories and the books were beautiful. But the best part was the feeling of getting to read someone else's correspondance. There is something so special about letters. Something that e-mail will never be able to capture. When I...more
Starla
The author became the owner of a small memory box when her neighbor, the real Louise Brunet, passed away without family to claim her belongings.

The idea of creating a story around all of the contents the box contained was brilliant. Old keepsakes...photos, postcards, gloves, coins, etc.
The story started out slowly, but I found myself mesmerized and wanting to find out what "spin" she would put on the trinkets found in the box.

Bizarre is the only word I can think of to describe this book. It leav...more
Heavensent1
13 rue Thérèse takes you back in time by weaving a tale of romantic mystery. You begin to be drawn to the main characters, Louise Brunet from the past and Trevor Stanton of the present. You read how Trevor finds a box and becomes drawn to the story of Louise, and feels compelled to uncover her tale.

With pictures, artifacts, mementos and more strewn throughout the books pages, the author captures your sense of mystery and you cannot wait for the story to unfold. Your left to speculate on a time...more
maven
I was a little apprehensive when I picked up 13, rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro, due to the unique presentation of the book itself. Images of scanned photos, letters, and other ephemera are interspersed with the text, and on the last pages, there were special barcodes for use with a smartphone, which made me a bit wary. However, I decided to let it go and just take the book for what it was, and I’m glad I did.

The book is strange and unique and yet, it’s also interesting and exciting. We brie...more
Amy Keyishian
Wowie! I loved this book, but not for the reason you probably suspect. Yes, it's pretty darn dirty. I mean, not "50 Shades" dirty, but, you know, maybe "Tipping the Velvet" dirty. There's a lot of fiery feeling and piercing looks and "I must be going mad!" moments in it, and that's fine. But what really won my heart was the absolutely marvelous writing. This is a period book that does not feel distant or dusty - it feels immediate and modern. That is, much of the action takes place in 1918, or 1...more
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...more
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3500369
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
More about Elena Mauli Shapiro...
In the Red: A Novel 13 Rue Thérèse

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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.” 4 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.” 3 likes
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