Set against the backdrop of Paris during relentless rain and a flooding Seine, Linden Malegarde is struggling against memories, fear and yearning as his family meets for his father’s birthday.
I may be way off base but I found so much symbolism in this touching novel that, to me, was significant. The statue of Zouave, a colonial soldier and the indicator to the city of the level of the Seine, measures the water like the rising memories of Linden from his childhood and from his former life in Paris. As the water rises, so does the number of memories Linden experiences and has to face. The unrelenting rain contrasts a family with unrelenting regrets. The isolation of the family in a safe hotel points to the isolation of the emotions each family member holds internally. The devastation of the city from the swelling and destructive river mirrors the devastation of a mother’s betrayal, of a father’s illness, and of a sister’s inability to come to terms with a harrowing car wreck.
Threaded through this story is Linden’s need to fully define himself and his relationship to his partner, Sacha, to his father. It is something Linden has avoided his entire adult life but feels circumstances give him the opening he has feared yet longed for.
I found the novel to be breathtaking and achingly beautiful as the family struggles are brought to the surface and explored.