13, rue Thérèse by Elena Mauli Shapiro
The first thing I noticed about 13, rue Thérèse was how absolutely beautiful the physical book is: I haven’t seen such a colorful and visually stunning manuscript in…well, probably since I started reading adult fiction. It made me even more inclined to enjoy this book, and enjoy I did!
In present day Paris, Trevor Stratton, a young American scholar, arrives at his new office and finds a box filled with the letters, photos, and mementoes of a Frenchwoman named Louise Victor Brunet. We are catapulted into the past each time Stratton examines a new article from the box, and with each artifact, we learn more and more of Louise’s romantic life story as seen through Stratton’s eyes.
I loved Louise’s off-beat personality–some of her antics reminded me a bit of Amélie, particularly when she gave a false confession to a priest just to get a laugh. There were times when I was frustrated and put off by her seemingly careless actions, but in the end, I felt like it only added to her character and her story and set her apart from other heroines who lose their first love and end up in a passionless marriage.
I also loved the relentless pace of the story. It moves so quickly and gets so twisted up in the end that you’re on the edge of your seat for things to resolve. When they do, the conclusion is extremely satisfying.
Be sure to visit the website at 13ruetherese.com for high resolution copies of the book’s illustrations when you’re done (or, if you have a smart phone, you can scan the QR codes at the back of the book).
Note that some of the scenes can be pretty gritty, so if you’re offended by sexual content and/or strong language, this may not be the book for you.