Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte became Emperor Napoleon III in France in 1852. He began to modernize Paris in an effort to boost the French economy. With the aid of Prefect Baron Haussmann the streets were widened, the working class neighborhoods were moved to the outskirts of the city, and parks were constructed. Paris during this controversial time in history is the focus of Tatiana de Rosnay’s newest book, The House I Loved.
Through letters to her beloved husband, Armand, who died ten years earlier, Rose Bazelet tells the story of the home she moved into when she first married. Her husband’s family home was on rue Childebert, a narrow street in a traditional neighborhood of shops and two story houses. Rose immediately falls in love with the home and with Armand’s mother. The years pass and Rose raises her children there and nurses Armand until his premature death. As she deals with his death, Rose develops deep friendships with the neighbors and shop owners. She spends many hours each day with the flower shop owner who rents space from the Bazelet family property. Napoleon’s hazing of surrounding streets is dreadful and worrisome, but the location of their house so close to the church surely will protect them from the demolition.
More and more the surrounding streets are ruined with the impending progress and Rose must decide what to do and where to go. Can she leave the house she loves?