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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, creative book
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...
Published on February 2, 2011 by Leslie

versus
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something Short of Love at 13, rue Therese
"She will give him the office with the tall useless empty file cabinet in the corner. He will probably not think to open all the drawers and look in 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, innocent-looking yet unexpected. How could one see such a think and then not...
Published on February 10, 2011 by Rebekah Montgomery


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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, creative book, February 2, 2011
By 
Leslie (Midwestern USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: 13, rue Thérèse: A Novel (Hardcover)
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.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A memorable read, February 1, 2011
This review is from: 13, rue Thérèse: A Novel (Hardcover)
13 Rue Therese is a valentine to romance, lasting love and the art of the treasure hunt for the saved mementos that tell the stories of our lives.

I became aware of this book shortly after learning about the death of an elderly Parisian woman, and the discovery of her long abandoned apartment, a virtual time capsule of her life some seventy years ago. The two things had nothing to do with each other, except they were both about the bits of memories that make up our lives. My curiosity about 13 Rue Therese was peaked.

Elena Mauli Shapiro chose to tell the story of piano teacher Louise Brunet through the eyes of American professor Trevor Stratton. Statton uncovers an old box of mementos and his life if changed by the old pressed flowers, letters, cards, dated photographs and random tidbits that we hang on to for memories' sake. Trevor falls in love with the woman who treasured these pieces of a life remembered.

Shapiro brilliantly allows the reader to fall in love with Louise also, by showing us pictures of the actual items from the box. Each chapter is full of photos of documents, ink pens, a flowered handkerchief, a brooch, a rosary and the other wonderful things that draw the reader deeper into Louise's story.

Ms. Shapiro's website tells us that 13 Rue Therese is inspired by real life. She says:

"When I was a little girl growing up in Paris in the early eighties, an old woman who lived a few floors up from my apartment died alone. Her name was Louise Brunet. None of her remaining relatives came to fetch her belongings, so the landlord had to clear them all out. He let the other tenants in the building scavenge through her stuff and take home silverware, jewelry, whatever they wanted. My mother salvaged a small box filled with mementos: old love letters from WWI, mesh church gloves, dried flowers, a rosary--many objects worth nothing but memories. This box is the sepulcher of Louise Brunet's heart. As I have carried it through life and across the world, I have always intended to write a book out of it."

I enjoyed this book very much, it's richly told by someone who feels the emotions she so lovingly shares with the reader. The storyline is sadly heart breaking, sweet and somehow gritty at the same time. Plot lines bring surprises both good and not so good, but always believable and poignant.

If I seem vague it's because I hope I've given you just enough to want to read this book.

Another interesting addition is the use of little fleur-de-lis symbols for QR codes found in the back of the book. These will link readers to the book's website [...]
where they will discover special 3-D renderings of the images in the book, as well as reading group guides, exceprts, audio and video clips, and essays by the author.

I bet you fall in love with this book too.

Source: This book was provided to me by the publisher at my request and in no way affected by review.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gift!, February 10, 2011
By 
This review is from: 13, rue Thérèse: A Novel (Hardcover)
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 I would know.

This was the journey of Trevor Stratton, and it was my pleasure to take it with him. Stratton is an American professor living in Paris and one day he finds something in his office. Imagine finding a box of photographs and letters belonging to someone you don't know, and slowly learning about this person and falling in love with them.

Louise Brunet seemed like a typical girl in the 1920s...but as we unwrapped pieces of her life, we realized she was anything but typical. In the beginning of her story, she suffers loss and lives a simple life...but then things get saucy.

I don't want to give away too much of this book - I want you to unwrap this gift yourself!
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Something Short of Love at 13, rue Therese, February 10, 2011
By 
Rebekah Montgomery (Mesa, AZ United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: 13, rue Thérèse: A Novel (Hardcover)
"She will give him the office with the tall useless empty file cabinet in the corner. He will probably not think to open all the drawers and look in 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, innocent-looking yet unexpected. How could one see such a think and then not take a little peek inside?" (~pg. 5)

So the plot begins.....a mysterious box of artifacts, strategically left for Trevor Stratton, a young American starting a new job in Paris. As he begins to peruse the letters, photos, trinkets, etc., he delves into the world of Louise Brunet, a Frenchwoman who lived in Paris during the first part of the 19th century, whose life was impacted by the Great War that devastated the world. As he ponders this woman and pieces together in his imagination the story of her life, her love, her loss, he becomes enamored with the history and sweeping romance that he uncovers.

The Review:

I did the unthinkable! I fell in love with the cover. An ultimate no-no. But come on - look at it. This cover is gorgeous! I look at it and the songs of Les Miserables start playing in my head... "Do you hear the people sing?" or "On my own, pretending he's besides me..." Okay, push pause on my brain iPod. It's actually set in Paris during World War I and World War II, and you can't help but feel the love and the loss that resonate in this girl's eyes. The sepia tint and the backlighting that makes those curls in her hair seems so soft just scream Historical Fiction. Naturally, I'm a big fan of this genre, and this novel was one I really, really, really wanted to love. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. Don't get me wrong, it has its moments, but they are too few and far between for me to be satisfied. I found the narration confusing and cluttered. I've never really been a fan of the frame story structure, but it's necessary for this novel - we have to experience Louise through Trevor's eyes. Trevor's story is useless except to bring us to Louise. I like Louise. She's a woman struggling to find her place, and I can relate to that. Given the setting, 1920s Europe, it's no wonder she sits on the fence between wanting to be a proper housewife and wanting to rebel and be free from the traditional constrains of society. Louise lost her first love to the horrors of the war, settled down with her father's business partner, never had kids, and eventually grows tired of her husband and initiates a love affair with the handsome neighbor next door. The history and the piece-by-piece discovery of her life story are enjoyable to read. Her portion of the narrative was well-written and character driven; I felt the desire, the longing, the wishful thinking, and even the resentment and frustration that Louise felt about her life. If it were just her story, the book would be a better read.

Rating: 3 /5 (Decent but not riveting)

The Concept:

The novel is unique for a couple of reasons - 1) the pictures and images placed among the pages of the text bring the story to life and 2) there is even an accompanying website with additional access to certain items you can't seem to stop staring at...bringing the whole experience of Louise to the digital age we live in now. However, there are too many footnotes and pages of information that describe these artifacts that distract from the plot itself. Piecing together the story of a woman's life through someone else's thoughts is also something that stands out with this novel. Again though, I was put off a little by the fact that a man was imagining the desires, romance, and ideals of our female protagonist. Oh well...

The Author Connection:

Elena Mauli Shapiro grew up in Paris, where she lived a few floors below an old woman named Louise Brunet. When Louise passed away, no one came for her things, so the landlord let the other tenants scavenge the apartment. Elena's mother brought home a box of mementos - love letters, church gloves, dried flowers - which Elena has carried with her all over the world. It is these mementos that served as the inspiration for the story of Louise. The real Louise we don't know anything about, but the one Elena creates can be read about in 13, rue Thérèse.

Review Copy: ARC Courtesy of Publisher did not affect this review in any way.
This review originally appeared on Aurelia.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fantasy about a long-ago woman..., February 17, 2011
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This review is from: 13, rue Thérèse: A Novel (Hardcover)
Author Elena Mauli Shapiro grew up in Paris. As a child she was given a box of old letters, coins, love tokens, and other sentimental objects that had been found in a neighbor's apartment after her death. Shapiro has taken those real objects and written a fantasy around them. She imagines the life of Louise Brunel, a woman born in 1896 who died without family at an old age.

I don't have a problem with what Shapiro did with these relics of another woman's life, I was just not altogether taken with her story telling - and, in particular, with her characters. The modern characters, Josianne and Trevor Stratton, just never seemed anywhere as interesting as Louise and her family and friends. I know Shapiro was trying to present a "fantasy", with connections between 2010 and 1928, but it just didn't fit together for me. I enjoyed the book, but part of me kept wondering why do these silly characters from today get in the way of those interesting ones from 1928?

A "fun" part of the book were the pictures showing the objects that Shapiro had found in the real Louse Brunel's apartment and which she used to write her story. This book is Shapiro's first and showed great talent. I will definitely be looking forward to her next one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 Rue Thérèse: the Address of Mystery and Suspense, August 27, 2011
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This review is from: 13, rue Thérèse: A Novel (Hardcover)
How many of us would love to discover an old, treasured artifact from the past? I know I would. It would be only natural to wonder about its owner and how the artifact came to be where it was found. This is what happened to Trevor Stratton. Through mysterious circumstances, he finds a mysterious, red plaid box filled with souvenirs of another life, one from the 1920's. These keepsakes lead him to speculation and involvement in a very special way. Photographs of these keepsakes are displayed in this book to add a deeper sense of reality and intrigue.

Thirteen Rue Therese is the address of mystery and suspense and a great deal of pleasure for the reader! The twists and turns provided by the author, Elena Mauli Shapiro, are entirely intriguing and unusual and nothing less than delightful!

The characters are very well developed. One of the main characters, Louise, the character to whom the mysterious box once belonged, reminds me so much of Edna Pontellier, Kate Chopin's protagonist in her book, The Awakening. Both characters experience a similar restlessness in marriage due to the lack of options afforded to them, as women in a male dominated historical time. The reader can readily understand and sympathize with her feelings of frustration and emptiness.

This is book is a true experience for the reader; one I will certainly not forget! This is well worth your time!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 13 Rue Therese book, June 18, 2013
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Awful book, I put it down after the first few chapters as it didn't make any sense, did not flow, and I just could not get into the storyline. It was a Book Club choice, and none of the 10 of us enjoyed it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, compelling and haunting story, April 12, 2011
By 
A. Brookes (West Hills, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: 13, rue Thérèse: A Novel (Hardcover)
I quite liked this book while reading it and when I was finished with it I found that it stayed with me for days. The writer never ventured too far into imagination, keeping the story believable. The characters are well conceived and full formed. The story has the passion of Sebastian Faulks "Birdsong," without the endless horrifying descriptions of WWI trench warfare. I am looking forward to reading more by this talented writer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 13 Rue Therese, April 11, 2011
This review is from: 13, rue Thérèse: A Novel (Hardcover)
Trevor Stratton, an American professor, has recently been transplanted to a Paris university. Through strange circumstances, he comes into possession of a box of mementos: letters, photographs, a scarf, a coin, and other objects. Who did they belong to? What is the story behind the pictures? What happened to the owner?

As Trevor begins to solve the mystery that was the life of Louise Brunet, he is also barraged by images of the momentous occasions in Louise's life: the death of a brother; a love affair she has when she is young; her courtship with her soon to be husband; an affair she has later in life, while she is living in 13 Rue Therese.

The novel includes color displays of the mementos. There is an area toward the back of the book for readers to use their smart app to read QR code. This was new to me.

The narrative's unfolding can be confusing if you're speed-reading or not paying attention. It alternates between 2nd and 3rd person, which threw me off. I would have preferred for the author to have cut out the 2nd person--not because I was annoyed at interaction with the reader--but because I thought it was filler and detracted from the beauty of other segments of the novel.

What did I like about this novel? Nearly everything else! I liked the story of Louise's life--the loss of her first love, the grief of losing a sibling, the numbness of never having a mother, the fear of living through two wars--and it was very well depicted. The war scenes were especially vivid and you could hear the flesh being ripped from the bone by a bullet.

There are lighter parts as well. Louise's licentious false confessions to the priest had me gasping for air. Her and her piano students conversations were wonderful as well; you could see the interplay between the young exuberant, and the more cautious adult.

And reader--beware! There is sex in here. Lots of graphic, intense, secretive sex.

13 also details the developing relationship between Professor Stratton and his assistant, Josianne, but I skimmed over those pages. I never felt close enough to those characters to care about what happened to them.

This book was about Louise, coming into her own.

The verdict:

Beside the use of 2nd person, I liked this novel. I went on that emotional roller coaster ride with Louise and enjoyed almost every minute of it.

The excerpts:

On religion: He, the blessed Father, doesn't even turn His head to glance at the tiny sound we make against the hard ground as we fall.

On society: All these measured manifestations, all these repressed emotions--what considerate liars we all are--being so civilized.

On marriage:Their union was one made in a spirit of weariness; a wish for peace and quiet was what drove them toward each other.

On desire: She is riddled with flaming foolishness--and she knows such things don't last, but she cannot accept that such things are false just because they are fleeting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The secret life of Louise, March 28, 2011
This review is from: 13, rue Thérèse: A Novel (Hardcover)
Opening the covers of 13, rue Therese is an enchanting experience. Remember the books you loved so well as a child, filled with captivating illustrations? I've always wondered why most books for adults have none at all. Now along comes a historical novel, set in Paris, which contains page after page of pictures of small antique mementos: letters, photos, gloves, coins, and more. The memorabilia belonged to a real person, Louise Brunet. No one collected her personal belongings when Louise died, and for twenty years, neighbor Elena Shapiro has puzzled over them, imagining the life depicted therein. Her alter ego, the narrator of the story, is an American academic who is studying the artifacts.

The Louise created by Shapiro lives an ordinary life as wife to a jeweler. WWI is behind her, but WWII is yet to explode. Louise's first love was a cousin who wrote long, romantic missives from the trenches, but who died shortly after returning home. She settled for a comfortable marriage to a nice man who loves her, but her regrets about his failure to give her children dominates her moods and diminishes her passion for him. But "naughty" impulses still pester her, and Louise finds ways of fulfilling them. At first, she makes up erotic tales, about nonexistent sexual encounters, to relate, in all places, in the confessional. When a new family moves into the apartment below hers, however, she sets out to seduce the husband. Which she does magnificently. There's a lot of "food porn", day dreaming, and explicit sexuality. There are also some harrowing passages about the nightmare of trench warfare.

This little plot (the book is a mere 288 pages in length, including illustrations) sounds simple, but the way it is related makes it frustratingly complicated, so much so that it is difficult to discern whether the thoughts belong to Louise, or to the narrator. Shifting randomly between two time periods, Louise's in the 1920's and the narrator's in the present, increases the confusion, particularly during the second half of the novel. Essentially, it is two separate love stories. Otherwise, it is reminiscent of Chopin's The Awakening, and Flaubert's Emma Bovary, with original elements of its own.
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13, rue Thérèse: A Novel
13, rue Thérèse: A Novel by Elena Mauli Shapiro (Hardcover - February 2, 2011)
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