I picked up 13, rue Thérèse after reading this review from Kathy at Bermudaonion. Elena Mauli Shapiro’s debut novel is an unusual format – it’s an illustrated novel. Not a graphic novel, there’s more text than graphics. About 1/10 of the pages contain a photo, postcard, or other image, and the finished hardcover includes QR codes to additional online content. What are QR codes? They’re those funny little square blobs you can scan with a smartphone, leading you to a specific website, special offer, or protected content.
I’m excerpting a true teaser. Having read only a few pages so far, I can tell you only that this is the perspective of a man about to be married in the late 1800s:
He is frightened the day he gets married. He’s pretty sure he loves the girl, but he isn’t sure about till death do us part. That’s a long way away. How is a man to know how much he will love a woman decades from now, after she has grown old and withered, and perhaps mean and bitter.
- The answer is that that’s what love is, the faith that you’ll grow together (and, by the way, grow old together — men are not immune to the old and withered look!).
- The Robert Browning poem, beginning Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be … came to mind. Why do we so often see that on sundials? Hmm, am I dating myself now? Do people still put sundials in their gardens?
- Finally, I had to go to tape to remember the words in the vows J and I exchanged – really, I fired up the VCR, we were married in the pre-DVD days. Our vows were fairly traditional, with some personalization and updating. Instead of “till death do us part” we said “as long as we both shall live.” It’s the same length of time, but a little more upbeat, don’t you think?
OK, thanks for putting up with my ramblings and reminiscences … back to the novel … I’ve pointed you to Kathy’s review. She and Julie from BookingMama host the Reagan Arthur Challenge (an imprint of Hachette Book Group). If you have not already signed up for the challenge, and do so before March 31, you will be entered to win your own copy of 13, rue Thérèse.