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January 31, 2011 / Leslie

Review: 13, rue Thérèse

13 rue Therese13, rue Thérèse
by Elena Mauli Shapiro

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Publish Date: February 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover | 288 pages
Rating: 4½ of 5

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 music even a pair of gloves. As he examines each of them he begins to write about their significance in a series of letters to someone identified only as ‘Sir’ and in doing so creates the story of Louise. At the same time Trevor is becoming more aware of his secretary and the role she plays in his discovering the objects.

Louise is not what I would consider a typical woman of the 1920’s. Her thoughts, desires and actions are more consistent with those of someone living today. But then I would remind myself that I was experiencing Trevor’s fantasy of Louise’s life. Childless and married to a man of her father’s choosing, Louise suffered heartbreak when the love of her life was killed in The Great War. While she loves her husband, he is not the man of her dreams. She wants a child. She wants passion. She has neither.

Louise is an intriguing and complex woman; she also has a naughty streak. Thinking about a pair of lace gloves she is wearing while in church causes her mind to wander off on an imagined sexual fantasy. Another time she makes a false confession to shock a priest. She has a desire to sleep with her new neighbor and writes him anonymous letters while at the same time she invites him and his wife to dinner.

Throughout the pages the book is illustrated with color photos of the actual objects which were the inspiration for the novel. Each of the photos are also displayed on an interactive website which can be reached through links in the book, a wonderful enhancement to the story. This is a book that must be seen to be appreciated. Go take a look at that gorgeous site; you will not be disappointed; you will be intrigued.

Love story, romance and fantasy, this is a clever and captivating story that is at times both sexy and adult. It is a puzzle that keeps you wondering until the very end when all the pieces ultimately fall into place. An enjoyable read.

About the Author

Elena Mauli Shapiro was born and raised in Paris, France, in an apartment below the real-life Louise Brunet’s. Shapiro found herself in possession of a box of Louise’s keepsakes after her neighbor died and no relatives arrived to claim them. These postcards, gloves, photographs, coins, letters, and other mementoes utterly captured her imagination. Shapiro has a BA in English and French from Stanford University, a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from the University of California, Davis, and an MFA in Fiction Writing from Mills College. Visit her website at
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review.
CymLowellI participate in Book Review Party Wednesday. Click the link to read more great reviews.



Leave a Comment
  1. Coffee and a Book Chick / Feb 1 2011 4:16 pm

    I will admit that the cover alone first drew me in – I just love it. Then, to top it off with a beautiful story? Sounds exactly how I’d want to spend a nice cozy evening 🙂


  2. Elizabeth / Feb 2 2011 6:17 pm

    Been seeing so much of this book…sounds great.

    Stopping by from Cym Lowell’s Book Party.


  3. bermudaonion (Kathy) / Feb 3 2011 5:41 am

    This book sounds fabulous! I can’t wait to read it. I’ve added your review to the Reagan Arthur Books challenge blog.


  4. Shivanee R. / Feb 11 2011 7:38 am

    What a lovely, immersive review 🙂 my interest in this book has definitely been piqued, and I’m adding it to my wishlist! I took a peek at the interactive website, which seems like an intriguing complement to the book itself, but I don’t want to get into it before I begin reading.

    I’m looking forward to more of your reviews!


  5. Beth F / May 12 2011 6:03 am

    I think you loved it more than I did. There is a lot to love, but the ending fell flat for me.



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