I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay
Published by St. Martin's Press on 10/23/2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Buy on Barnes & Noble, Buy on Amazon
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, in the tradition of THE NEST.
The Rain Watcher is a powerful family drama set in Paris as the Malegarde family gathers to celebrate the father's 70th birthday. Their hidden fears and secrets are slowly unraveled as the City of Light undergoes a stunning natural disaster. Seen through the eyes of charismatic photographer Linden Malegarde, the youngest son, 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.
I have a complicated relationship with Tatiana de Rosnay’s books, having absolutely loved (or, at least, remembering a fierce love for) Sarah’s Key when it first came out in 2006, but for some reason that I can’t even really put into words not having picked up a single of her books since then and before The Rain Watcher. Normally I’m prone to immediately jumping on any book written by an author that I’ve read and enjoyed previously, but it just didn’t stick with Tatiana de Rosnay.
One thing I remember being primarily taken with in relation to Sarah’s Key was the prose – Tatiana de Rosnay’s writing is especially beautiful and that did not disappoint in The Rain Watcher. It’s a complicated book to try and describe, honestly, but I think what saved it was definitely the writing.
At it’s core, The Rain Watcher is about family – the inextricably tangled bonds that govern our lives, in ways both good and bad, simple and complicated, fleeting and forever. I feel that if the book had been left to just this; just the family and the relationships therein, it would have been a much stronger read for me. However, there were many other subplots (some that made sense as to why the family was the way it was; why their relationships had taken on a specific edge or where a particular undercurrent in present day conversations originated, and others that I didn’t see the need for).
The (let’s face it, overarching) subplot of the disastrous flooding of the Seine was interesting to me, as I honestly did not know the extent to which the Seine could flood – never having been to Paris or reading up on it much myself. It was especially interesting because I live in an area of the US that is prone to flooding, having been built on what used to be marshes and is now filled in land or land near a coast that is under sea level as it is. I could completely connect with people not wanting to leave their homes, with the worry and anger and fear and rage at oneself and everyone in your path during the scarier moments – luckily I have only ever experienced a fraction of those emotions, but I can undoubtedly envision them. In a weird way, this was the part of the book that took on the most meaning to me and, well, I don’t think it was meant to be that way.
At 240 pages, it’s hard to say that the book was too long… but in a way that’s exactly what it felt like. I would have much more preferred a short story just about a family coming together and having to deal with their own personal shortcomings and tragedies, rather than bringing in unnecessary doom and peril (maybe to add “value?”) to a story that could have stood on it’s own.
All of this being said – I stand by what I said earlier: the writing saved the book. It might have been hard to connect to the characters, and I might have had no sense of place or time because of the relentless specific descriptions of street names and patisseries and cafes and shops in a Paris that I wouldn’t know (whether it was under water or not), and I might have not really seen any reason whatsoever for the big reveal at the end … but I do think it was a solid 3 star read. I may not tell you to go out and grab it today – but I think it would be perfect for a long weekend in when you have time to spare and aren’t sure what to read.