Oh my heart... I’m kind of soaring through some beautiful clouds of inspiration right now, I found this book so inspiring for many personal reasons. It’s so beautiful, so vivid, and also a story that will capture your heart. It definitely caught mine, in more ways than one.
Told through the eyes of Linden Malegarde, The Rain Watcher is the story of the Malegarde family (Paul, the father, Lauren, the mother, Linden, the son, and his sister Tilia) who all meet in Paris to celebrate Paul’s birthday and Paul and Lauren’s wedding anniversary. At the same time the Seine is set to flood, breaching it banks while the rain continues to fall. The Rain Watcher is a story of unsaids, of love, of family, of secrets, and of natural and unnatural disasters. But there are so many more layers to it than that too!
Paris is my favorite city in the world, even more home than NYC, where I spent over a decade of my life. Paris will always, always be my measure of what home feels like, and I have never even lived there! I did grow up in France though, so it all makes sense, to me anyway. I read this thinking in French and reading certain words in French. It’s what I do naturally and it always surprises me when I realize what I’m doing!
I read Sarah’s Key a while ago, and absolutely love Tatiana de Rosnay’s writing. It’s dreamy, and beautiful, and I always feel transported by her words. When I received The Rain Watcher in the mail I literally jumped up and down because I knew that it was the exact book I needed to read right then. And oh my gosh it delivers.
The author does such a great job of creating a contemporary novel where major events and the aftermath are recalled, such as the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015 or Hurricane Sandy in NYC in 2012. But there are also elements of the past within the words, Paul recalling a story of his youth, other family stories that come up in the narrative, and mentions of the 1910 Seine flooding disaster in comparison to the even worse flooding happening in the present day in the novel. All of these elements are woven together so intricately, creating a backdrop to the ongoing Malegarde family story. And then all of the information on the importance of trees... So wonderful, so crucial, so disregarded... The references to photography, something I am so passionate about, especially black and white film photography... And also all of the references to my beloved David Bowie!!! I seriously feel like this book was written for me!
The ending is a little predictable, but perfect in its own way, just how it should be. A very solid 4.5 stars in my opinion, and definitely a book I will be reading again. I also realized that Tatiana de Rosnay actually writes both in English and French, and I couldn’t quite figure out if the English version of The Rain Watcher is a translation of the French or not (Sarah’s Key was directly written in English). I’m going to buy the French version because like the author I speak both languages fluently. (We have quite a few parallels I saw after reading her biography).
Thanks to St Martin’s Press for the advance copy of this beautiful, beautiful novel.