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13 rue Thérèse

3.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,218 Ratings  ·  304 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
Hardcover, 278 pages
Published February 2nd 2011 by Reagan Arthur Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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.
Feb 03, 2011 Kathrina rated it it was ok
Shelves: american-fiction
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
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
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
Oct 15, 2011 Christena rated it it was ok
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.
Jun 07, 2012 Marty rated it really liked it
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
Jul 21, 2011 Kathy rated it it was amazing
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.
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
Nov 29, 2012 Satch rated it it was amazing
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?
Aug 13, 2014 Leah rated it really liked it
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
Mar 15, 2011 Frank rated it liked it
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
Sep 29, 2011 Virginia rated it liked it
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
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
Dec 15, 2015 Ellen rated it really liked it
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 26, 2011 ☮Karen rated it really liked it
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
Angie Fehl
Jul 11, 2015 Angie Fehl rated it liked it
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
Jan 12, 2015 J rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
BEWARE of spoilers. One man's bookflap summary is another man's spoiler.

Interactive tale - Author has pictures of artifacts printed amongst the novel's text. Ephemera include images of coins, postcards, letters, gloves, etc., which once belonged to a deceased Parisian woman, Louise Brunet, whose life spanned both world wars.

Brunet's life story gets unearthed by Trevor Stratton, a visiting U.S. scholar, when he comes across the tin box of unexplained personal items and starts researching -- after
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!
Feb 09, 2014 Krys rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 13, 2014 Delma rated it liked it

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
Jun 01, 2014 Jane rated it liked it
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
Jan 09, 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!!
Sep 20, 2014 Samantha rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
An extremely intelligent and clever fictional story spun from very non-fictional items stored in a box for decades.

The tale engrosses the reader and takes him/her on a time travel journey blurring the lines of fever induced delusion and reality. The book chronicles Trevor and Louise, two real people corrupted by their own timelines. Trevor, who discovers the existence of Louise via the same box of items that the author inherrited; and Louise, who is entangled in a war torn life both externally
Dec 25, 2015 AmyK rated it it was ok
I did not really understand this book. After reading some reviews, apparently I'm just not enough of an academic/intellectual to appreciate it. I didn't enjoy the completely unnecessary graphic sexual descriptions (false, for the most part) made up to make a priest squirm during confession. I just cannot relate to a female character in the early 1900's doing that ~ just seems ridiculous to me.

The time travel experienced by the narrator just came out of nowhere and I just didn't understand the e
La république des livres
J’ai acheté ce livre il y a quelques mois lors de la vente privée Michel Laffont et je dois dire que je suis bien contente de ne pas avoir payé plus pour ce livre.

Ce qui m’a séduite lors de la lecture du résumé, c’est le fait qu’on parle de la Première Guerre Mondiale. Mais le résumé induit en erreur, c’est plutôt la vie privée et charnelle de Louise et Trevor qui nous est rapportée.

Le roman en plus est décousu, on passe d’une époque à l’autre sans s’en rendre en compte. On passe ainsi de la déc
Feb 02, 2011 Leslie rated it really liked it
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
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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.” 3 likes
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