Trevor Stratton is an American professor and translator, newly arrived at a Paris university. There, in his office, he discovers a box filled with letters, photographs, and antique objects—a beautiful pair of gloves, a rosary, a silk scarf. Whose life is preserved here? And who has left this mystery for him to find?
The artifacts tell the story of the box’s owner, Louise Brunet, who lived in Paris through both world wars. Trevor is captivated by her tale—her unruly love for a cousin who died in WWI, her comfortable marriage to a man who works for her father, and her passionate attraction to a neighbor in her building at 13, rue Thérèse. But the artifacts only tell a small part of the story. Trevor almost deliriously envisions the rest, consumed by thoughts of Louise. Or is it Josianne, his alluring assistant, who rules his imagination?
Memory, passion, and the mysteries of time are entwined in this enthralling novel, a book that transports us not just to Paris but into the mysteries of the past. Elena Mauli Shapiro’s first novel is a masterly exploration, intimate and dramatic, of the stories we imagine about others’ lives—and the truths those stories reveal about ourselves.
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