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The Rain Watcher: A Novel

The Rain Watcher: A Novel

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The Rain Watcher: A Novel

valoraciones:
3.5/5 (19 valoraciones)
Longitud:
317 página
7 horas
Publicado:
Oct 30, 2018
ISBN:
9781250200020
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

The first new novel in four years from the beloved superstar author of Sarah's Key, a heartbreaking and uplifting story of family secrets and devastating disaster, set against a Paris backdrop, fraught with revelations, and resolutions.

"An absorbing tale of family secrets from the author of Sarah's Key." - People magazine

"Hypnotic, passionate, ominous and tender—unforgettable.” —Jenna Blum, New York Times and internationally bestselling author of Those Who Save Us

Linden Malegarde has come home to Paris from the United States. It has been years since the whole family was all together. Now the Malegarde family is gathering for Paul, Linden’s father’s 70th birthday.

Each member of the Malegarde family is on edge, holding their breath, afraid one wrong move will shatter their delicate harmony. Paul, the quiet patriarch, an internationally-renowned arborist obsessed with his trees and little else, has always had an uneasy relationship with his son. Lauren, his American wife, is determined that the weekend celebration will be a success. Tilia, Linden’s blunt older sister, projects an air of false fulfillment. And Linden himself, the youngest, uncomfortable in his own skin, never quite at home no matter where he lives—an American in France and a Frenchman in the U.S.—still fears that, despite his hard-won success as a celebrated photographer, he will always be a disappointment to his parents.

Their hidden fears and secrets slowly unravel as the City of Light undergoes a stunning natural disaster, and the Seine bursts its banks and floods the city. All members of the family will have to fight to keep their unity against tragic circumstances. In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, de Rosnay demonstrates all of her writer’s skills both as an incredible storyteller but also as a soul seeker.

Publicado:
Oct 30, 2018
ISBN:
9781250200020
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

Tatiana de Rosnay is the author of eleven novels, including the New York Times bestselling novel Sarah’s Key, an international bestselling sensation with over two million copies sold in thirty-five countries worldwide. Together with Dan Brown, Stephenie Meyer, and Stieg Larsson, she was named one of the top ten fiction writers in Europe in 2009. Tatiana lives with her husband and two children in Paris. Visit her online at www.tatianaderosnay.com


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The Rain Watcher - Tatiana de Rosnay

1969

ONE

Je passais au bord de la Seine

Un livre ancien sous le bras

Le fleuve est pareil à ma peine

Il s’écoule et ne tarit pas

—GUILLAUME APOLLINAIRE, MARIE

I will start with the tree. Because everything begins, and ends, with the tree. The tree is the tallest one. It was planted way before the others. I’m not sure how old it is, exactly. Perhaps three or four hundred years old. It is ancient and powerful. It has weathered terrible storms, braced against unbridled winds. It is not afraid.

The tree is not like the others. It has its own rhythm. Spring starts later for it, while all the others are already blossoming. Come late April, the new oval leaves sprout slowly, on the top and middle branches only. Otherwise, it looks dead. Gnarled, gray, and withered. It likes to pretend to be dead. That’s how clever it is. Then, suddenly, like a huge explosion, all the buds flourish. The tree triumphs with its pale green crown.

No one can find me when I’m up here. I don’t mind the silence. It’s not really silence, because so many small sounds fill it. The rustle of the leaves. The moan of the wind. The buzz of a bee. The chirp of the cicadas. The flutter of a bird’s wing. When the mistral is up and rushes through the valley, the thousands of branches swishing sound like the sea. This is where I came to play. This was my kingdom.

I tell this story now, once, so that I don’t have to tell it again. I am not good with words, whether they are spoken or penned. When I’m finished, I will hide this. Somewhere where it won’t be found. No one knows. No one will. I’ve never told it. I will write it and not show it. The story will remain on these pages, like a prisoner.

IT’S BEEN LIKE THIS for the past two weeks, says the listless taxi driver. The rain pours down, a silver curtain, hissing, obstructing all daylight. It is only ten o’clock in the morning, but to Linden, it feels like dusk glimmering with wetness. The taxi driver says he wants to move away for good, flee Paris, find the sun, go back to balmy Martinique, where he is from. As the car leaves Charles de Gaulle Airport and edges along the jammed highway and ring road that circles the city, Linden cannot help agreeing with him. The sodden suburbs are dismal, clustered contours of cubic volumes bedecked with garish neon billboards flickering in the drizzle. He asks the driver to turn on the radio, and the man comments upon his perfect French, for an American. Linden grins. This happens every time he returns to Paris. He replies he’s Franco-American, born in France, French father, American mother, he speaks both languages fluently, with no accent at all. How about that, eh? The driver chortles, fumbles with the radio, well, monsieur certainly looks like an American, doesn’t he, tall, athletic, jeans, sneakers, not like those Parisians with their fancy ties and suits.

The news is all about the Seine. Linden listens while squeaky windshield wipers thrust away rivulets in a never-ending battle. The river has been rising for five days now, since January 15, lapping around the Zouave’s ankles. The huge stone statue of a colonial soldier situated just below the pont de l’Alma is, Linden knows, the popular indicator of the river’s level. In 1910, during the major overflows that inundated the city, the water had crept all the way up to the Zouave’s shoulders. The driver exhales, there’s nothing to be done to prevent a river from flooding, no use fighting nature. Men need to stop tampering with nature; all this is her way of lashing back. As the car inches along sluggish circulation, unrelenting rain pounding on the car roof, Linden is reminded of the email the hotel sent him on Tuesday.

Dear Mr. Malegarde,

We are looking forward to your arrival and stay with us as from Friday, January 19th, at noon, until Sunday, January 21st, in the evening (with a late checkout, as requested). However, the traffic situation in Paris might be problematic due to the level of the river Seine. Fortunately, the Chatterton Hotel, situated in the fourteenth arrondissement, is not located in an area liable to inundations, and therefore will not be concerned by the inconvenience. For the moment, the prefecture informs us there is nothing to worry about, but our policy is to update our guests. Please let us know if you need any assistance. Kind regards.

Linden read it at the airport on his way from L.A. to New York, where he was booked to photograph a British actress for Vanity Fair. He forwarded the message to his sister, Tilia, in London, and to his mother, Lauren, in the Drôme valley, who were to join him in Paris that Friday. Linden had not included Paul in the email because his father only appreciated letters and postcards, not emails. His sister’s answer, which he received when he landed hours later at JFK, made him chuckle. Floodings?! What?! Again? Don’t you remember there was already a scary flood in Paris last November? And what about the one in June 2016? It took us years to organize this bloody weekend, and now this?! She signed off with a series of scowling emoticons. Later, his mother replied to both of them: Will come by boat if we have to, dragging your father away from his trees! To at last be together! No way will we cancel this family gathering! See you on Friday, my loves! The Malegarde family was meeting in Paris to celebrate Paul’s seventieth birthday, as well as Lauren and Paul’s fortieth wedding anniversary.

Linden had not given the hotel’s warning another thought. When he left New York for Paris on Thursday evening, he felt weary. It had been two full days, and before that, weeks of hard work around the globe. He would have preferred to fly back home to San Francisco, to Elizabeth Street, to Sacha and the cats. He had not seen much of Sacha, nor the cats, in the past month. Rachel Yellan, his dynamic agent, had landed him one job after the other, a dizzying swirl from city to city that left him depleted and longing for a break. The narrow blue house in Noe Valley and its cherished inhabitants would have to wait until this special family event was over. Just the four of us, his mother had said, all those months ago, when she had booked hotel and restaurant. Was he looking forward to this? he wondered as the plane took off. They had not often been together, just the four of them, since his teenage years at Sévral, where he grew up, and more so, since he had left Vénozan, his father’s familial domain, in 1997, at nearly sixteen. He saw his parents once or twice a year, and his sister whenever he went to London, which was frequently. Why did just the four of us sound both so cozy and ominous?

On the flight to Paris, Linden read Le Figaro and realized with a jab of apprehension that the situation described by the hotel was, in fact, disquieting. The Seine had already flooded in late November, as Tilia pointed out, after a wet summer and autumn, and previously, in June 2016. Parisians had kept a wary eye on the Zouave, and the little waves lapping up his shins. Fortunately, the flow had stopped increasing. Le Figaro explained that thanks to modern technology, one could predict the river’s engorgement three days ahead, which left ample time for evacuating. But the actual problem was the torrential rain, which had not lessened. The river was on the rise again, and threateningly fast.

After traffic jams and more foreboding talk on the radio, the taxi crosses the Seine at Concorde. It is raining so thickly, Linden can barely make out the river below, just enough to notice the churning flow seems unnaturally foamy. The taxi crawls along waterlogged boulevard Saint-Germain and boulevard Raspail, and reaches the Hôtel Chatterton at Vavin crossroad. In the one minute it takes Linden to leap from car to entrance, the rain plasters his dark blond hair to his head, dribbles down the back of his neck, seeps into his socks. The chilly winter air enfolds him and seems to follow him into the lobby. He is greeted by a smiling receptionist, he smiles back, hair dripping, shivering, hands her his French passport (he has two), nods back at "Bienvenue, Monsieur Malegarde." Yes, his sister is arriving later on today by Eurostar, and his parents from Montélimar by train. No, he’s not quite sure at what time. Is he aware that his parents’ train will be diverted to Montparnasse and not be arriving at Gare de Lyon, because of the inundation risks? No, he knows nothing of this. But that will make it much more practical, he realizes, as Montparnasse station is barely five minutes away from the Chatterton.

The receptionist, whose badge reads AGATHE, gives him his passport and room key, and tells him, not too effusively, how much she admires his work, what an honor it is to have him at the hotel. Is he here for fashion week as well? she inquires. He thanks her, then shakes his head, explains this is a family weekend, that he will not be working, not a single shoot scheduled for the next few days, a well-deserved rest. He has only one camera with him, he tells her, his beloved vintage Leica; he left his gear in New York, with his agent, and the only people he plans to photograph are his parents and sister. As for fashion week, that’s certainly not on his list; he’ll leave those glitzy creatures tottering on their stilettos to their own confederacy of glamour and catwalks. The receptionist laughs. She heard on TV that if the Seine continues to rise so alarmingly, fashion week might be canceled. Now it is Linden’s turn to snort, and he feels a furtive pang of guilt, and cannot help thinking of what it would mean to actually cancel fashion week, which starts tomorrow, what a colossal waste of effort, time, and money. The receptionist then refers deferentially to his father and says what a pleasure it is to have Mr. Treeman with them, and Linden is amused at her fervor (little does she know how much his father resents that sobriquet, how ridiculous he finds it, and with what difficulty he deals with his illustriousness); his father is such a respected figure, she goes on; his struggle to save notable trees around the world is admirable. He warns her, genially, that his father is shy, not easygoing and talkative like himself; however, she’ll have a ball with his mother, who is the true star of the family, and his sister, Tilia Favell, is quite a number, as well.

The room on the fourth floor, giving onto rue Delambre, is warm, comfortable, and prettily furnished in tints of lilac and crème, although a trifle small to accommodate his long-limbed frame. A basket of goodies awaits on the table—fresh fruit, roses, chocolates, and a bottle of champagne on ice—with a handwritten welcome note from the hotel’s director, Madame Myriam Fanrouk. He remembers his mother choosing the Chatterton two years ago when she decided to go ahead with the anniversary and birthday weekend. It was labeled a charming, delightful boutique hotel on the Left Bank, bang in the heart of Montparnasse and TripAdvisor comments were positive. Linden had left the organization up to her. He had booked his flights when he was sure of his agenda, not an easy feat for a freelance photographer. Lauren had also picked the place they were having dinner tomorrow night, Villa des Roses, a one-star Michelin restaurant on rue du Cherche-Midi, behind the Hôtel Lutetia.

Why Paris? he wonders as he unpacks his small suitcase and hangs up the dark green velvet jacket he’ll be wearing tomorrow evening. Tilia is based in London with her daughter and her second husband, art expert Colin Favell; Lauren and Paul live in Vénozan, near Sévral, in the Drôme valley, and he is established in San Francisco, with Sacha. Yes, why Paris? Paris does not mean much to his parents. Or does it? Linden gives it a thought as he undresses, casts aside his damp clothes, and steps under a hot shower with relish. He knows his parents met in Grignan, during the ferocious heat wave that desiccated France in the summer of 1976, when Paul was working as head landscaper for an ambitious garden-design firm on the outskirts of the small town. Tilia and he know the story inside out. Lauren, barely nineteen, was visiting France for the first time with her sister Candice, two years older. Born and bred in Brookline, Massachusetts, they had never been to Europe. They started with Greece, then Italy, and made their way up through France via Nice, Avignon, Orange. A halt in the Drôme had not been planned, but it had been too hot to pursue their route and they decided to spend one night in a modest but welcoming bed-and-breakfast in Grignan. At the end of the sweltering day, the sisters were enjoying a glass of chilled rosé in the shade of the cool square, where a fountain tinkled, beneath the statue of regal Madame de Sevigné, whose imposing château graced the top of the hill, when Paul drove by in his pickup. He wore faded white overalls that had a Steve McQueen aura to them, a frayed straw sun hat, and a roll-up cigarette jutted from his mouth. Lauren’s eyes followed him as he parked the truck and hauled various pots and shrubs from the trunk into a nearby shop. He was broad-shouldered and muscular, of medium height, and when he swept off the hat to wipe off a perspiring forehead, she noticed he had hardly any hair, just a segment of brown fuzz at the back of his head. Nearly bald, but young, not even thirty, she guessed. Candice asked why she was staring at the guy in the overalls, and Lauren whispered, Just look at his hands. Candice replied blankly that she couldn’t see anything special about his hands at all, and Lauren, in a sort of trance, murmured she had never seen anyone touch plants the way that man did. Their father, Fitzgerald Winter, was something of a gardener; so was their mother, Martha. The girls had grown up in a verdant, tree-filled neighborhood in Brookline, near Fisher Hill, where residents spent a lot of time tending to their gardens, with shears in one gloved hand and a watering can in the other, anxiously appraising a rosebush’s growth. But this man was different, and Lauren could not take her eyes off his robust, tanned fingers, watching the way he tilted his head to stare at each flower, how he caressed the branches and blossoms of every plant he handled, cupping it in a strong yet gentle hold that mesmerized her. Paul must have felt the pressure of her gaze, because he at last looked up and saw the two sisters sitting a little farther away. Tilia and Linden knew this part by heart, as well. He saw only Lauren, her legs, her long hair, her slanted eyes, although Candice was just as beautiful. He walked over to her table and silently handed her a small potted olive tree. She spoke hardly any French, and his English was nonexistent. Candice mastered French better than her sister, so she was able to translate, but to them she was invisible, just a voice choosing the right words. His name was Paul Malegarde, he was twenty-eight, and he lived a few kilometers away, near Sévral, on the road to Nyons. Yes, he loved plants, especially trees, and he had a beautiful arboretum on his property, Vénozan. Would she like to see it, perhaps? He could take her there, would she like that? Oh, but she was leaving tomorrow with her sister, off to Paris, and then London, and then back home at the end of the summer. Yes, she could maybe stay a bit longer; she had to see.… When Lauren got up to shake his proffered hand, she towered over him, but neither of them seemed to mind in the least. She liked his shrewd blue eyes, his infrequent smile, his long silences. He’s not half as good-looking as Jeff, said Candice later. Jeff was Lauren’s preppy Bostonian boyfriend. Lauren shrugged. She was meeting Paul again later, by the fountain. There was a full moon that night. The heat did not abate. Candice was no longer there to serve as translator, but they did not need her. There was not much talking. David Bowie, Paul’s favorite singer, sang from the cassette deck in the pickup as they gazed up at the stars, their hands barely touching. Jeffrey van der Haagen felt thousands of miles away. Lauren Winter did not make it to Paris, nor to London; nor did she go back to Boston at the end of that scorching summer of 1976. She visited Vénozan and ended up never leaving it.

Linden grabs a towel, dries himself, and slides into a bathrobe. He remembers his mother’s mentioning that meeting up in Paris was more convenient for the four of them. She was no doubt right. And this was to be a no spouses, no children weekend, she had pointed out. That meant no Colin, no Mistral (Tilia’s daughter from her first marriage), no Sacha. Just the four of them. He draws the curtain back and watches the rain cascade down to the gleaming pavement. Scarce passersby dash through the drops. His mother had scheduled several walks and visits to museums for tomorrow. The rain and cold will no doubt hamper her plans. A gloomy noon in Paris, and three o’clock in the morning in San Francisco. He thinks of Sacha sleeping in the large bedroom on the top floor, the tousled dark hair on the pillow, the gentle, regular breath. His phone pings and he turns to retrieve it from his coat pocket. Dude, have you arrived? Tilia always calls him dude, and he retaliates with doll. Doll, I’m in my room. Number 46.

Moments later, he hears an authoritative rap at the door and opens up. His sister stands there, drenched, hair flattened and dripping, eyebrows and lashes spiked with wobbling droplets. She rolls her eyes, outstretches her arms, and staggers forward like a zombie, which makes him laugh. They hug, and, as ever, she is small compared to him, small but robust, built exactly like their father, with the same broad shoulders, square jaw, the same quizzical blue eyes.

Whenever Linden and Tilia are together, they never know which language to choose. They grew up learning both at the same time, speaking English to their mother, French to their father, but between them, it is a confusing, rapid jumble of both, a Frenglish potpourri of slang and personal nicknames that give other people headaches. While Tilia dries her hair on a towel, then with the hair dryer, Linden notices she has put on weight since the last time he saw her, just before summer, when he was passing through London. But it suits her, this new plumpness, giving her a femininity she sometimes lacked. She had always been a tomboy, the kind of girl who climbs trees, plays pétanque with the men in the village, whistles with her fingers between her teeth, and swears like a pirate. She disregarded style, makeup, and jewelry, although Linden notices that today she is wearing a well-cut, if sopping, pair of navy blue trousers and matching jacket, attractive black boots, and a gold necklace. He compliments her on her appearance, and she mouths Mistral above the blast of the hair dryer. Her poised eighteen-year-old daughter, a fashion student born of a Basque father (a renowned chef), is Tilia’s fashion police, and it appears her efforts are paying off. Her hair now dry, Tilia walks across the room to turn on the TV, saying she wants to watch the news about the river, and Linden notices her limp is worse than usual.

They never talk about the car accident she had in 2004, when she was twenty-five. She refuses to ever mention it. Linden knows she nearly died, that parts of her left leg and hip were replaced, that she underwent extensive surgery and spent six months in the hospital. The accident happened near Arcangues, when she was returning to Biarritz with her best friends from a party. One of the girls was getting married the following week. They had hired a car with a chauffeur in order to be able to drink safely. At three in the morning, an inebriated driver speeding along the small winding roads smashed into their minivan. Four girls were killed on the spot, as well as their chauffeur and the other driver. Tilia was the single survivor of a car accident that made headlines. It took her years to get over it, mentally and physically. Her marriage with Eric Ezri broke up a few years later, in 2008, and she obtained custody of their only daughter. Sometimes Linden wonders if his sister has ever gotten over the tragedy, if she is aware of the toll it has taken, like a chunk out of her life.

How’s Colin? asks Linden carefully as Tilia switches to the news channel. They both know—the entire family knows—that her elegant British spouse, an eminent art expert specializing in old master paintings at Christie’s, her charming, bespectacled, smooth-skinned husband with his quick-witted small talk and toothy smile is a drunkard. Not the social type of drunkard who, clutching his tepid champagne glass, will careen through parties, delightfully tipsy, ensconced in a haze of innocuous gibberish, but the hard-core, bad-news type of drunkard who starts his day knocking back gin at ten in the morning and who ends it in a coma, curled up dead to the world on his doorstep at Clarendon Road in a pool of his own urine. Tilia takes her time to answer, perched on the corner of the bed, eyes on the TV screen, where old black-and-white photographs of the 1910 Paris flooding file past. She answers, tonelessly, that the situation is the same. Colin promised he would stop, that he’d go back to the clinic (for the third time), but it is not better. Things are becoming problematic at work. He had been able to hide it for a while, but not anymore. She is fed up. Colin is aware of it. He says he loves her, and she knows he does, but she is running out of patience. For the first time, Linden glimpses defiance in his sister’s face. She looks bitter, resentful. When she married Colin Favell in 2010, she had no idea he was an alcoholic. He hid it cleverly. He was dashing and handsome. Nineteen years older than she? So what! It did not show. He was marvelous to look at, such a seductive Jaggerish smile, all those teeth. He also had been married a first time and had two grown-up sons. They met in London, at an auction, where Tilia had gone with a friend. Mistral had liked him, too. In the beginning. And then, gradually, well after the wedding, the truth was revealed. The drinking, the lies, the viciousness. He never hits her, nor Mistral, but his insults are odious daggers of venom.

Tilia is going to be forty next year, she reminds her brother with a smirk; that hideous age, that ghastly number, and her marriage is a disaster. Her husband is a disaster. The fact that she has no job and is living off him is a disaster. But she never really had a job in her life, so who’s going to hire her now, at her age, with no diplomas or experience of any kind? Linden interrupts her. What about her painting? She scoffs at her brother. Her painting? Another disaster! He cannot help laughing, and so does she, in spite of herself. Yes, of course she still paints, and she loves it, and it saves her, but no one gives a shit about her paintings. No one wants to buy them, at least not her husband’s snobby friends from the art world; they turn up their noses at everything that’s not a Rembrandt. Everything around her is a disaster except for her daughter. Her daughter, born in December 1999 during a mighty storm, her baby named after the powerful northwesterly wind that blustered through Tilia’s childhood, is the apple of her eye.

At the end of her rant, Tilia turns to Linden and says brightly, And how’s Sacha? Sacha’s fine, quite a bit of work at the start-up, a fair amount of stress, but Sacha knows how to handle stress. The only problem is that they don’t see each other much right now, with Linden always on a plane, and that wedding date, which always gets postponed because of traveling, well, they are going to have to do something about it. Tilia asks if their father has ever met Sacha. Linden says no, he hasn’t. Lauren and Sacha were introduced to each other in New York in 2014, and they hit it off fine. They met again, later, in Paris and it had gone just as well. Their father leaves Vénozan only to save remarkable trees, not to visit his family. Doesn’t Tilia know that? Linden adds drily. Tilia plays with her necklace. Does Linden think their father perhaps doesn’t want to meet Sacha? Linden is aware that question is coming; his sister has always been outspoken, so he is not surprised. But he finds he has no answer. He glances toward the TV, where a map of the Seine is now being shown, alarming red arrows darting here and there, marking possible flooding. He says cautiously that he does not know. He has never asked his father outright and he has not discussed it with Sacha. All he knows is that Sacha and he have been together for nearly five years, that they plan to get married, and that Sacha has never met Paul. Tilia observes that San Francisco is not exactly close to Vénozan. Linden agrees, but he reminds her that there was that one time, not very long ago, when their father had flown to California, somewhere near Santa Rosa, to prevent a plantation of an uncommon species of redwood trees from being axed to enlarge a railroad. Paul had spent a week battling the authorities with his cluster of followers, composed of arborists, dendrologists, scientists, botany students, activists, historians, nature lovers, and ecologists. He ended up saving the trees, but he never went to visit his son and meet Sacha, a mere hour’s drive away. There

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  • (4/5)
    If you haven't fallen in love with Paris from reading other books, don't read this book, yet! The Seine River is bursting it seems and so it seems is the Malagarde Family who meets in Paris for the Patriarch's 70's birthday. Each family member has their own niche in the world and each family member holds secrets that they are afraid will disrupt the family if anyone in the family finds out. The Rain Watcher tells the story of a father and son relationship that hasn't age well over time. It tells the story of a mother who has shut down her emotions after her son tells his truths, and it tells the story of a sister who seems all put together but may not be as put together as she seems.

    This book is fraught with emotion. It is a hard book to get into, however, don't give up! Plug on, because once you do, you will enjoy every second of your journey.

    Author Tatiana de Rosnay, the author of Sarah's Key gives another stunning book to the reading world that pulls your heartstrings, makes you reevaluate your relationships and hopefully makes you a better friend, daughter/son, sister/brother, mother/father, and or, wife/husband/partner.
  • (3/5)
    Enjoyable quick read. Enjoyed the mystery developed with the character's past, but never felt really connected to many of them. Not sure why, but maybe too much being placed in such a short book so you don't really get a sense of the character's current story before you find out about their past. The flooding of Paris was an interesting parallel for the development and resolution of the characters' storylines. I loved the connection of the father, the trees, and the intrigue of his story as it is woven in the plot along with Linden's.
  • (4/5)
    I thought this was a beautiful story about the things we don’t tell People we love. ❤️
  • (3/5)
    3.5"Why did "just the four of us" sound both so cozy and ominous?" from The Rain Watcher by Tatiana De Rosnay.On the surface, it was a celebratory family gathering. The patriarch of the Malegarde family, Paul, was turning seventy; he and his wife Lauren had achieved 40 years of marriage. Their children Linden and Tilia were joining them in Paris, France.Except...heavy continual rains had the Seine rising to a record flood stage. Paul, a world famous arborist, suffers a stroke while his wife falls ill. Their daughter Tilia still struggles with PTSD from a horrendous accident that killed her best friends and left her with a limp after reconstructive surgery. She is in a failed marriage to a drunk. Her daughter Mistral is her one bright happiness. And Linden, a world famous photographer, left home at age sixteen and can't tell his father he is engaged to another man.Each character has their secret pain which they must face during this devastating reunion, and which is revealed to each other by the end of the story, showing their growth and resilience.Linden has to keep the family afloat, visiting his father in the hospital while Tilia tends to their mother. He explores the flooded streets with his professional peer Oriel, camera in hand. As he revisits places from his past, all the pain and regret returns to overwhelm him in a flood of memories. The apartment where he lived with his beloved aunt. Places where he spent happy hours with his first lover before they were brutally torn apart. Nature's destructive force is a constant presence in the novel, the rain and cold, people fleeing Paris and those who stay in cold and lightless apartments, all impotent to stop the advancing water. And yet it was also nature, in the form of a lime tree, that saved the child Paul, informing all his choices and activities throughout his life, and giving his children their names.The novel is a love song to Paris, and for those who know the city will feel agony as the floods overwhelm. The city has faced recent flooding, the worse in fifty years.For all the emotional and natural chaos going on in the novel, I felt distant, the events not affecting me as strongly as I would have thought. I realized that the narrator tells readers what is happening when I would have liked scenes played out in action and dialogue. Readers are being told a story, a quite good story, much of which takes place in the internal lives of the characters. I liked the characters very much.I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.The author's previous books include the bestselling Sarah's Key and an excellent biography on Daphne Du Maurier, Manderley Forever.
  • (5/5)
    A special thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.Linden Malegarde has returned home to Paris from the United States where he lives with his partner. It has been years since his family was all together. They have reunited for the patriarch's birthday; Paul is celebrating a milestone and is turning 70.The City of Lights is on the verge of a natural disaster when the Seine bursts and it floods the city. Paris is as fragile as the Malegarde family's relationships—each member is trying to balance the delicate family dynamics. Paul is a world-renowned arborist that only seems to have eyes for his grove of trees. Lauren is his American wife who is determined to make the weekend a success. Tilia, the blunt oldest child has an 18-year-old daughter Mistral who is adored by her uncle Linden. Colin is Tilia's much older spouse, an elegant British art dealer that can no longer hid his drinking problem. And that leaves Linden. He has never been comfortable in his own skin and never feels settled having grown up as an American in France, and a Frenchman in the US. His relationship with his father has always been off. Even though he is a successful and in demand photographer, he feels that he will always be a disappointment to his parents.Bound by tragic events, the family must fight to remain united as secrets unfold and their greatest fears surface.Set in Paris during a rainstorm, this gorgeous, haunting work was captivating from start to finish. de Rosnay's writing is elegant, hypnotic, and incredibly moving. The story is profound and intense, yet soft and beautiful. I devoured this book in one sitting and would highly recommend.
  • (2/5)
    This was so painfully slow, uninteresting and plot-less that I am not sure why I finished it. Is that too harsh? I apologize. But I do feel like I just wasted my time. I only gave it two stars because generally I leave my one star reviews for books I don't actually finish. Conceptually, I got it. A family, seemingly in pieces, comes together during a horrific natural disaster and a health disaster, only to find they were really a big happy family all along - if only they could have communicated. Dang, it's always those pesky communications that lead to life's misunderstandings. Well written? Absolutely. Well drawn characters? Absolutely. Well done character studies? Absolutely. If those are your interests when reading, then by all means, pick this one up. You will not be disappointed. If you want some plot depth I say skip it. Thanks go to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy to read in exchange for my honest opinion.
  • (3/5)
    Tatiana de Rosnay is one of my favorite authors. The Rain Watcher is not one of my favorite works by de Rosnay, mainly due to the dreariness of the setting and the troubled lives of the characters.While I was reading this novel, it rained. It’s raining as I write this. I can tell you that de Rosnay did an excellent job creating the mood in Paris as the Seine River overflows its banks and parts of Paris become flooded. The rain is never-ending.During this drenching ordeal, the Malegarde family gathers together to celebrate their father’s birthday and their parents wedding anniversary. Their weekend plans are drastically changed due to the weather and some unexpected health problems which trap the family in Paris and force them to face some relationship issues that were long buried.I thought the setting and the writing were excellent. I was a bit confused as to why the story about Susanne was added and wondered why there wasn’t more clarification at the ending about that topic.The story kept my interest, but the satisfaction I normally feel at the end of a book just wasn’t there this time around.Many thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me to read an advance copy and give my honest review.
  • (2/5)
    To state that this book is a disappointment is an understatement. I really struggled to finish it; were it not for the fact that I felt obligated to review it because I received a digital galley, I would have abandoned it.The Malegarde family meets in Paris in January of 2018 to celebrate the 70th birthday of the family patriarch Paul who is a world renowned arborist. Paul and his wife Lauren arrive in Paris where their son Linden and their daughter Tilia are waiting. The family reunion does not go as planned; much of Paris is experiencing flooding and Paul suffers a medical emergency that requires his hospitalization. While they are together, various family secrets are divulged.The narrator is Linden, a celebrated photographer who is gay but has never actually discussed his sexuality with his father. Of course, communication seems not to be the métier of any of the family members. Lauren keeps a secret from her husband; Tilia never speaks of an accident in which she was injured; and Paul has a secret which he has hidden “where it won’t be found. No one knows. No one will.” It is Tilia’s secret that seems contrived. Linden might not have heard personal details from his sister but there would have been information easily available online.The book needs extensive editing. Over and over again, there are detailed descriptions of the flooding and a comparison to the 1910 flood which is repeatedly mentioned. Then there are the constant references to Paris streets and arrondissements. Words referring to street (“rue” or “avenue” or “boulevard”) are used over 100 times! Even the style is tedious. There is very little dialogue; instead, Linden just recounts conversations so there is no sense of immediacy. So much telling, as opposed to showing, leaves the reader feeling detached. What’s with the obsession with years? Besides the 2 dozen references to the floods of 1910 and 2016, various years between 1997 and 2016 are specifically identified 58 times! There is little variety in sentence structure. So many of the sentences are short, choppy, simple sentences (“Tilia halts. Her trembling hands cover her face like a mask. Linden and Mistral do not move. The only sound is the gush of rain . . . Suddenly the phone rings . . . Mistral answers it. She nods, murmurs a few words, then hangs up. Linden asks her who it was. She whispers that it’s not important.”) as if the author cannot write a compound or complex sentence. Then there are the long series of interrogative sentences: “What does Paul know? How long has it been going on? . . . Is this a recent affair? Or one of those long-lasting clandestine ones, like Candice and J.G.’s? . . . Are his parents happy? Have they always been happy?” and “Why her? Why them, and not her? Why had all her friends died? Why had she been the one left behind? The only one?”The author often seems to toy with the reader. At the beginning, she avoids using gender-specific pronouns to refer to Sasha as if to later shock the reader about Linden’s homosexuality. The same is done with the opening passages of the chapters when it is not made clear who (Linden or Paul) is writing the flashbacks.Symbolism usually adds depth to a novel. In this case, however, the symbolism is clumsy and heavy-handed. Paris is being flooded and the reader is to understand that the family is drowning in secrets and a storm is brewing as they gather for their reunion which arouses a flood of emotions. As the Seine dredges up what has been buried, so are the family’s secrets dredged up. It’s impossible to miss the metaphor: “It seems his father’s life is slowly ebbing away, with the same stealthy pace as the rise of the Seine, as if the two events are intertwined and preordained.” As Paris is deluged by water, Linden is inundated with memories of his time in the city. After the waters recede, will the family emerge cleansed?Much of the narrative is disjointed. Much is made of Tilia’s speaking about the accident which left her with mental and physical scars, but then it is never mentioned again. The backstories of characters are supplied but they serve little purpose. Linden is placed in positions that make little sense. Why does he go on the second boat trip since he is not allowed to take photos and his presence would serve only as a hindrance to rescuers? Likewise, he is asked to be at an evacuation though he would become one more person for those in charge to worry about? And what’s with unexpectedly dropping characters into the story? Three different people arrive unannounced.Sometimes things just seem thrown into the plot mix. Linden leaves Tilia to get some medication for his mother: “He leaves Lauren in Tilia’s care. She’ll deal with getting the prescription.” Then later we are told that “medication has been the subject to avoid with his sister ever since her accident. She harbors profound skepticism about doctor’s prescriptions” and “It had been complicated enough getting her to approve of the treatment Lauren was receiving for her pneumonia.” This complication was never mentioned! And don’t get me started on that ending with its great reveal. It’s anticlimactic and explains little. Is it supposed to explain the reason for Paul’s preference for trees over people? It does not connect to the rest of the storyline except to suggest that Paul decided he should share his secret. A repeated message is that people need to care more for each other. One woman dies because of “the lack of caring.” One character “hates this egocentric world where selfies rule, where no one bothers to find out if their neighbor is all right.” We are told that in the 1910 flood, “people were kinder to one another . . . They watched out for their neighbors; they made sure everyone was dry and safe. Solidarity ruled, and this, sadly, is no longer true in our modern selfish world.” Despite the many references to deep waters, I found the book rather shallow. It does not flow; rather, it is disjointed. Many scenes lack purpose. I hate being so negative, but I honestly found little to admire in this book. Reading it was like wading through the detritus of a flood. Note: I received a digital galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.
  • (4/5)
    Linden wondered why his mother organized a family get together in Paris for his father’s 70th birthday since his father didn’t like Paris.In addition to his dislike of Paris, Paris was having torrential rainfall with threats of flooding. The rain and flooding continued throughout their time in Paris and throughout the book with worries it would be as bad if not worse than the Paris floods of 1910.THE RAIN WATCHER brings together this family of four from Venozan, London, and San Francisco - no spouses or children - just the four of them. We meet Linden from San Francisco who never got along with his father, Tilia from London who is unhappily married for the second time, and Paul and Lauren their parents. All the characters seemed to have something to hide, but you warmed up to them as the book continued.The children had grown up in Venozan after their parents met when Lauren was on a vacation in France more than 30 years ago. It was a whirlwind romance that had Lauren never going back to the states.The family was still indifferent as always as they gathered together for breakfast and the rain continued to pour down. Lauren insisted they were in a non-flood area of Paris and should continue with their celebration plans.Their celebration was wonderful until something tragic happened at the restaurant and Lauren became ill as well.Besides being part of family issues and seeing how people interact, there was a lot of interesting information about photography. Linden was a famous photographer with a photo of his father taken years ago that made him famous. There is also wonderful information about plants and gardening and Paris.THE RAIN WATCHER is beautifully written and pulls you into the story line with Ms. De Rosnay’s marvelous storytelling skills and details about every situation. If you like rainstorms and family drama, this book will be of interest. 4/5This book was given to me by the publisher via NETGALLEY and in print in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
  • (4/5)
    Lindas Book Obsession Reviews "The Rain Watcher" by Tatiana de Rosnay  St. Martin's Press October 30, 2018Tatiana de Rosnay, Author of "The Rain Watcher" has written an intense, emotional, captivating, riveting, and intriguing novel. The setting for this story takes place in Paris, during a devastating rainfall and flooding of the Seine. The Genre for this story are Fiction. The author does an amazing job describing Paris, and the historical places  of interest. The author does provide historical background of past flooding in Paris, and the destruction that it caused. The author describes her dysfunctional cast of characters as complex and complicated.Each character has their own set of problems, and there are many secrets. This is a story of family coming together. Linden Malegarde, a famous photographer. has come  to Paris from the United States to celebrate his Dad, Paul's 70th birthday, and their parents anniversary. Paul has always been obsessed with trees. and is famous as an arborist.  Paul has always felt safe by trees, and feels you can't fight nature. This is a half  American family and a half French family.  Problems have occurred in the past with Linden and his sister because of this.As the Seine continues to flood  causing damage, and havoc, the Malegarde family finds themselves in a tragic set of circumstances.  Will the family be able to unite and communicate before it is too late?I would highly recommend this novel for those readers who enjoy an emotional story filled with conflict and natural disaster. I received an ARC from NetGalley for my honest review.
  • (4/5)
    When I read the last page I sat wondering how I felt about this story. I still am not sure but I am positive that I was fully invested in all of the members of the Malegarde Family. The character development is extraordinary. Set in Paris, a trip that is supposed to be a celebration becomes a nightmare times four. The situational horror of the flooding Seine and its effect on the story heighten the tension and the anxiety that mirrors the emotions of each member of the family. Linden is so beautifully drawn that you feel his joy, sorrow and love as he explains the formative experiences that have brought him to this point in his life. Tilia, his sister is the staccato note, shrill, broken, brittle, scarred, scared, emotionally tied to her brother. She loves him fiercely. She can spin out of control in a heartbeat. Paul, the patriarch, reticent, comfortable with his trees, removed from his family. Lauren, the matriarch, with secrets that remain hidden from her family. Interesting that you can love a book for the characters and leave the story behind. Beautifully written - so many tragedies are.Thank you NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for a copy.
  • (5/5)
    What a joy to read a family drama written by Tatiana de Rosnay. The Rain Watcher follows the Malegarde family who meet in Paris to celebrate the 70th birthday of Paul, the patriarch. The weekend was arranged by his spouse, Lauren, to gather together their adult children, Tilia and Linden. The reunion unfolds as the river Seine is bursting its banks and threatening to flood the City of Light. There is a sense of foreboding throughout due to the constant rain and the dysfunctional relationships of the Malegardes. Paul, an arborist, has a better understanding of trees than of his family. Lauren wants the weekend to be a success for all. Talia, the daughter, has problems of her own at home in London and Linden, the son, left the Malegarde home as a teenager and never really went back. And everyone has secrets of their own. The Rain Watcher reminds us that all families have issues. An entrancing read. Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
  • (3/5)
    Is it bad that the descriptions of Paris flooding were the most interesting part of this novel for me? Certainly, I emphasized with the central character of Linden, a photographer whose father is in the hospital, effectively disrupting a planned family weekend intended to celebrate his 70th birthday. All the while, the water level rises in the city, and in a world with poignant memories of flooding in Houston and more recently Venice, the rising river banks represent so much more tan just water. Good reading, although to be honest, I still haven't quite worked out the point of the whole thing.
  • (3/5)
    Interesting characters but no plot. Another story of one family's disfunction.
  • (4/5)
    The Malegarde family has gathered in Paris for a family reunion in honor of Patriarch Paul's 70th birthday and anniversary celebration with his wife Lauren. Their adult children, daughter Tilia and son Linden come into town from London and New York respectively. Timing is everything and as it turns out, being in Paris on this particular weekend was nearly disastrous. The rain hasn't stopped. The Seine is quickly rising. While trying to make the best of a difficult situation, the Malegarde's experience their own family crisis, preventing them from fleeing the rising floodwaters as the rest of Paris departs. Linden, a world renowned photographer, is the narrator of this tale. The narration is as one looking at life through a filtered lens. Each character has painful secrets which they hesitate to share. Eventually, each rips the bandage off their wound and exposes themselves bare. There is a tremendous array of emotion exhibited in each of the characters throughout this book. Such tragic pain and sorrow pent up in each. Is redemption even possible?There is no question of author Tatiana de Rosnay's ability to tell a well spun tale. Her prose is exquisite and rich in descriptive detail. Her characters are well fleshed out and the struggles of each are deeply felt. It's just that this is such a dreary tale to tell and it left me horribly sad. It ended as so many french dramas often do.Synopsis (from publisher's website):Linden Malegarde has come home to Paris from the United States. It has been years since the whole family was all together. Now the Malegarde family is gathering for Paul, Linden’s father’s 70th birthday.Each member of the Malegarde family is on edge, holding their breath, afraid one wrong move will shatter their delicate harmony. Paul, the quiet patriarch, an internationally-renowned arborist obsessed with his trees and little else, has always had an uneasy relationship with his son. Lauren, his American wife, is determined that the weekend celebration will be a success. Tilia, Linden’s blunt older sister, projects an air of false fulfillment. And Linden himself, the youngest, uncomfortable in his own skin, never quite at home no matter where he lives—an American in France and a Frenchman in the U.S.—still fears that, despite his hard-won success as a celebrated photographer, he will always be a disappointment to his parents.Their hidden fears and secrets slowly unravel as the City of Light undergoes a stunning natural disaster, and the Seine bursts its banks and floods the city. All members of the family will have to fight to keep their unity against tragic circumstances. In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, de Rosnay demonstrates all of her writer’s skills both as an incredible storyteller but also as a soul seeker.
  • (5/5)
    I am normally a very fast reader but I read this book slowly so that I could savor every word and marvel at the way the family secrets were brought to the light. I love Paris and felt like I had taken a wet and rainy mini-vacation after I finished it. I loved the family and they are not characters that I'll soon forget.The Malegarde family is meeting in Paris to celebrate Paul's 70th birthday and the anniversary of Paul and Lauren. They both traveled to Paris from the Drome Valley to spend the weekend with their two children - Tilia who is an artist and lives in London with her second husband in a rocky marriage and Linden who lives in San Francisco with his lover. Linden is a world renowned photographer who sees the world best through the eye of a camera. When the family all arrives in Paris, it has been raining for days but as the rain continues, the Seine begins to rise to levels not seen since the flood of 1910, the city begins to flood and shut down. In the midst of the devastation in Paris, Paul suffers a stroke and is taken to the hospital and Lauren is stricken with pneumonia. This is a family who love each other but don't really understand each other. They are hiding secrets and resentments from each other. As they get cut off from the rest of the world in the floods, their secrets start to come to light as they learn more about the other family members.This is a beautifully written novel about the devastation of Paris in a flood and the flood of feeling that this family must release to better understand each other. It will make you miss Paris if you've ever been there or make you want to make plans for a trip to Paris. I LOVED IT!Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
  • (4/5)
    Stuck in Paris during record floods with ailing parents and a sister who's marriage is breaking up.
  • (4/5)
    An historic flood, a flawed family, and the last chance for understanding and redemption, converge in this well done novel. When the Malegarde family arrive in Paris to celebrate the Father's 70th birthday, they little expect the incessant rain, nor the impact the flooding of the Seine will have on their stay. Linden, a very successful photographer is our narrator snd our tour guide, chronicling the flooding. The family will soon be dealing with a life threatening illness, an illness do serious they are not able to leave to escape the rapidly rising water.In many ways I felt the flood was the main character, the family and their trials play out against this very real tragedy. The family has much in their past to deal with, and as the water rises so too does the tension within this family. I loved all the tree talk, as Paul is a world renowned tree expert, in fact the story stars and ends with a tree. A tree that will play a very important part in the story. This will prove to be a memorable trip for this family, in more ways than one.I enjoyed this, it is a quieter, introspective novel, about a family who love each other but have many things from their pasts with which they need to come to terms. The flooding snd the impsct on the city is done extremely well, and the family is one in which we can relate. They show how a family can lose their moorings, by actions not taken, and words not spoken. ARC from Netgalley snd St. Martin's press.
  • (4/5)
    The Rain WatcherThis read is a domestic drama as the Malegarde family arrives in Paris to celebrate the father's 70th birthday,Unexpected, incessant rain provides a backdrop as the river Seine continues to rise.Son Linden, a photographer, brings us the story of this bittersweet reunion.Definitely character driven, all were well defined and there were quite a number of major events.I found the book jacket mentioning "a novel of love and redemption." I borrowed that to encompass my thoughts of the novel.3.5*