Tuesday 12 March 2019

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay @tatianaderosnay @WorldEdBooks BLOG TOUR #TheRainWatcher @WriterForster

It is raining non-stop over Paris. The Malegarde family - split between France, London, and the US - is reunited for the first time in years. When Paul, a famous yet withdrawn arborist, suffers a stroke in the middle of his 70th birthday celebrations, his son Linden is stuck in a city that is undergoing a stunning natural disaster. As the Seine bursts its banks and floods the streets, the family will have to fight to keep their unity as hidden fears and secrets also begin to rise.
In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, De Rosnay demonstrates her wealth of skills both as an incredible storyteller and also as a connoisseur of the human soul.

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay was published by World Editions on 21 February 2019. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review and for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.

It's been a long time since I read anything by this author. It's over ten years ago that I discovered her via the wonderful novel Sarah's Key, and was delighted to have the opportunity to revisit her writing in The Rain Watcher.

Rain. Paris. David Bowie. Trees. Family. Secrets

Six words that are associated with The Rain Watcher.; six words that are the central themes.

This is a complex, character-led novel with such a tremendous sense of place. I was entranced from the beginning and became so engrossed as the author described the rising flood waters of Paris that I really did feel as though I were there; splashing along the pavements with the lead characters.

It's a simple premise; Lauren and Paul have been married for forty years and it's also Paul's 70th birthday. Lauren has planned a small family celebration for months. It will be just them, and their two children; Linden and Tilia. No partners; just the four of them, together in Paris as a family.

However, things do not go to plan. Paris is experiencing the worst floods since 1910. The rain is unrelenting and as the waters rise, so does the tension within the story. When Paul suffers a stroke during his birthday dinner and is rushed to hospital, and Lauren succumbs to flu-like symptoms, everything that they wished for crumbles away.

Tatiana de Rosney's characters are wonderfully created, and the story is told, in the main, from Linden's view point.
Linden was a troubled child, subject to school bullying. He left the family home at a young age to live with his Aunt. He came out to his Aunt before he told his mother, and this has always stood between them. His father, Paul, has never talked about Linden's sexuality, or made reference to his long-term partner Sacha.
Linden's sister Talia is also troubled. The memories of the horrific car accident that left all of the other passengers dead are ever present, and she has never spoken about what happened on that dreadful night.

Interwoven between Linden's observations of his family, and the ever increasing destruction from the flood waters, are diary excerpts that detail a terrifying incident. The reader is never quite sure who is narrating these, or how they fit with the story. Not until the very end of the novel do we realise that this historical event has shaped Paul, and his life and how he treats the rest of the family.

This is an intricate and sensitive portrayal of a family who have secrets. The author cleverly and carefully paints a portrait of a happy, successful family that is overwhelmed by shadows from the past. These shadows become dimmer as Linden gradually discovers just who his parents and sibling really are; he is helped by the music of Paul's idol David Bowie, with lyrics carefully woven through the story.

The Rain Watcher is a slow burning, evocatively written story with such a vivid sense of place and beautifully crafted characters. It really is quite stunning.

Photograph © Charlotte Jolly de Rosnay
Tatiana de Rosnay, of English, French, and Russian descent, was born in 1961, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and raised in Boston and Paris. After studying literature in England at the University of East Anglia, Tatiana worked in Paris as a reporter for Vanity FairPsychologies Magazine, and ELLE. She has published twelve novels in French and three in English including New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, which sold over eleven million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Kristin Scott Thomas in 2010. Her books have been published in 42 countries and in 2011 she was listed by Le Figaro as the fifth most-read French author worldwide.

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