13 rue Thérèse

When I was a little girl growing up in Paris in the early eighties, an old woman who lived a few floors up from my apartment died alone.  Her name was Louise Brunet.  None of her remaining relatives came to fetch her belongings, so the landlord had to clear them all out.  He let the other tenants in the building scavenge through her stuff and take home silverware, jewelry, whatever they wanted.  My mother salvaged a small box filled with mementos: old love letters from WWI, mesh church gloves, dried flowers, a rosary—many objects worth nothing but memories.  This box is the sepulcher of Louise Brunet’s heart.  As I have carried it through life and across the world, I have always intended to write a book out of it.

This book, a novel titled 13 rue Thérèse, now exists, published by Little, Brown.  The central story concerns a fictionalized Louise Brunet, who is a married-but-childless piano teacher with a propensity for giving false confessions to priests and other small acts of mischief.  She lost her lover during WWI, and in an attempt to revive the excitement of that relationship, she is quite tempted to have an affair with a new man who moves into her building, named Xavier Langlais.  The narrative frame for the story is named Trevor Stratton, a contemporary American academic working in Paris who comes across Louise’s box of mementos.  Studying the objects has a strange effect on him, and in a fever he channels what may or may not be the life of Louise Brunet over a two-week time period in November of 1928.


24 responses to “13 rue Thérèse

  1. Reagan sent me your book last week. I knew from the note she wrote with it that 13 rue Thérèse was going to be something special. It was. Bravo!

    I wish you much success!

  2. Bonjour Elena,
    Je suis Jean-Yves ton ancien voisin de la rue Thérèse et je suis heureux de reprendre contact avec toi à l’occasion de ton roman que j’attends avec impatience. J’ai envoyé à Diana et Hans un historique de l’immeuble qui arrive un peu tard mais ce n’est peut-être pas très important. Je me souviens aussi comme toi avec tristesse de la manière dont on a vidé l’appartement de Mme Brunet que j’appelais irrespectueusement 6 h 10 parce qu’elle marchait le dos courbé. Bravo pour ton blog. Je t’embrasse. Jean-Yves Bras

    • Bonjour Jean-Yves! Long time no see, ils disent ici! Je viens juste de recevoir l’historique de l’immeuble. C’est génial de ta part d’avoir fait ça! Le roman va sortir en français avec les éditions Michel Lafon, mais je ne sais pas encore quand (faut le traduire etc). J’espère que tout va bien chez toi. Je t’embrasse,

  3. SO looking forward to featuring 13, Rue Therese on Books on the House! Can’t wait to read it, myself. Best of luck with it.

  4. I just bought your book today on my lunch break. I can’t put it down, i’m sneakily reading it under my desk at work.

  5. Pingback: Enter to Win 13, Rue Therese, by Elena Mauli Shapiro | Books on the House

  6. Hi Elena,
    Congratulations on a lovely novel. Your Uncle Stewart in Baltimore gave me a copy and I read it in two days ( I just couldn’t stop). I loved it so much I gave it to my boyfriend to read…he likes it so much he is leaving romantic quotes from it on my Facebook wall.
    All the best!

  7. I received a copy of your book through a goodreads.com giveaway and am only pages from finishing the book. A wonderful read and learning a bit about how the story of how your Louise Brunet came into being only makes it more charming. Thank you.

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  9. I thoroughly enjoyed your novel and our book club is discussing it at our next meeting Sunday. Did you learn anything about Louise’s life from your parents? If so, did this information help you in crafting the character of Louise? Also, did you add any of the items pictured in the book to the box yourself (other than those noted in the text as having been added/scanned by Trevor)? Thanks!

    • Thank you for posting! Nope, nobody really knew about Louise as she was pretty much a recluse in the last years of her life. She didn’t even go out for groceries, had them delivered. All we remember of her was that she used to watch her TV so loud that it echoed in the courtyard. Then she blew out the speakers and watched it without sound. It was actually pretty sad.

      All of the items that were added are noted by Trevor as being “not in the documentation.” All the other stuff is real and from Louise’s box. Have fun at your book group!

  10. I stumbled on this book in the ‘new book’ section of my library. It looks intriguing and I LOVE the colored images on the book pages. I cannot wait to dive into it this week. From the sounds of it, it won’t take me long to complete.

  11. One day, during spring, i was feeling nostalgic. It was weirdly cloudy for a spring day and i was wandering through my small town, feeling stuck. I missed Paris, my favourite city in the world, where i go to at least once a year and i wanted to read a book based on the city. I asked the lady from the book shop if she knew about a book based on Paris. She was reading “Vita privata di una sconosciuta” (13 rue thèrèse). She told me “Hey, this book i’m reading just came out, it’s from a French writer, i can’t put it down. And the story revolves around Paris.”. I didn’t know what to expect. I just saw the Eiffel Tower on the turquoise front cover and thought “Hey, if i don’t like it, i might as well not finish it!”, but i was also kinda skeptical since i hadn’t read a book in Italian in ages (i’m Italian, but i always prefer to read books in their original languages, ’cause i don’t want the real feelings of them to get lost in translation!). Then i went home, made hot cocoa and lit a candle. I started reading.. And i was hooked. Your writing is witty and brilliant, the way the story is told is unusual and original and the character of Louise is relatable and REAL. I think there’s a bit of Louise in all of us! By the end of the night i had finished the book.. But completely forgot to do my homework. I got a bad mark the next day at school, but i got my Paris fix, so i didn’t mind. And now, after all these months, i’m still craving for more. Thank you for this wonderful piece of literature. I am in awe of you, Mrs. Shapiro! Much love, Simona

  12. Your book is wonderful with a WOW factor I have not experienced before. A beautiful work. Many Thanks.

  13. I really was intrigued by this novel. Interesting, sensual and quirky. We will be discussing this book at our book club on Tues 4/ 17. Just wondering what happened to all the u-tube connections. They all say they have been pulled by the author.

  14. I just read your book and LOVED it! It would be wonderful if one day it were made into a movie. I would love to see it! 😀

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