Barreau, Nicolas “Love letters from Montmartre”

Hoarding memories is not a blessing. Memories make us sentimental. And those who are sentimental cannot move forwards, they live backwards.

Essential book information

Basic plot summary

A writer is dealing with the death of his wife while taking care of their son and trying to adjust to the new reality by writing his late wife 33 letters. While trying to keep up with the promise he finds the pleasure in live and a new love.


The classic story of losing and finding love is told in the beautiful language of Nicolas Barreau. His language’s rhythm takes you straight into Paris, and many references to more and less familiar streets and locations make you feel as if the story is true.

Julien Azoulay, the writer, loses his wife to cancer and is left alone with the hole in his should and a little son. He seems to deal with the tragedy better than his father.

To my taste, the book is a bit shallow. Julien has promised his wife to write her 33 letters after she is dead. He has arranged for a secret drawer built into her grave monument base where he hides the letters. However, this storyline does not find any real ending in the book. The new love story that grows throughout the narrative is passive and unclear, and the passionate climax comes as a surprise. Various other storylines like dinners at his mother’s and odd relationships with his wife’s best friend do not make the story more grounded. Rather, it feels like it has been written in several instalments and never got a final checkup before being published.

My recommendation

I got this book as a delayed Christmas present and I have to admit that it wouldn’t be my choice at the book store. It has left me with intensified longing to stroll the streets of Paris some time soon, though.

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