When this book was offered for review on Twitter through @Headlinechiclit I searched for more information and loved that the story was created from a real box of mementos – my curiosity was instantly piqued! Being addicted to my own family history trail and having items passed down (that in some cases I know nothing about), I too have imagined different scenarios for each item. I was interested to see how the author had used the memories.
The box of memories contain old love letters from WW1, church gloves, dried flowers, a rosary, photographs, motorbike licence, coins, postcards etc. It came into Elena’s possession through her mother who salvaged it from a Parisian apartment – the owner, Louise Brunet, had died alone with no relatives to sort out her belongings. The box has travelled with the author ‘through life and across the world’ with an intention of creating her own story.
Photographs of the ‘treasures’ are brilliantly used …………… they are integral …………… they are the story!
The story opens telling us about the ‘gift’ the secretary leaves hidden for professors who she feels need the memories in their lives. She has chosen American professor Trevor Stratton this year and from there, it is Trevor who narrates. There is a photograph of the lid of the box and underneath ‘Would you like to open it?’ I was hooked!
This is a story about love and passion during WW1 and in the late 1920’s. It is centred around not only Louise Brunet’s Parisian life but also around Trevor Stratton’s as well. It is sensual in places and the WW1 scenes are graphic and brutal. There are also places where time doesn’t exist, as we know it!
The writing style, for me, fitted with the late 1920’s. Words used are beautiful and evocative. The timing of the ‘pieces’ fitting into place were at the right time, holding my intrigue and keeping me hooked.
I feel Elena has done justice to the memories that came into her possession. Artefacts that would have remained hidden are out there in the public domain and Louise Brunet is not forgotten. A wonderful thought when she didn’t have anyone to remember her at the end of her life!
13, rue Therese will be published in hardback by Headline Review on 14th April 2011 – Will you open the box?