Prime Edition

The eternal pull of memory & place

17th Jun 2012

The House I Loved

Rosiana de Tatnay

Penguin Classics

Pages: 178 Rs. 250

The adage 'home is where the heart is' pretty much sums up Parisian author Rosiana de Tatnay's latest novel. But unlike the cheeriness it implies, this work is a tragedy around the intense attachment that one could, and often does, develop with one's place of habitation. In the 1860s, upon the express order of Napolean III, Baron Haussman is on a mission to renovate all of Paris. In the midst of crumbling buildings, and an entire culture, is Rose Bazelet: a woman rebelling in her quiet way against this destruction, despite being enfeebled by old age and life. At stake are her memories, good and bad, and an entire generation's way of life that she is unwilling to let go. The novel is in the form of a letter that Rose writes to her deceased husband, which is as much an exercise in preservation as a confessional. The book provides for slow reading as there isn't much action, just a lot of recapitulation. Yet, Rose's final revolt finds ample expression in Tatnay's simple, effective narration.

—Nidhi Gupta

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