(I received a copy of THE RAIN WATCHER through NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own.)
There were a couple things that drew me to this book –
1) Paris is on the cover and I need to get to Paris at some point in my life. Need. Until then, vicarious visits via fiction will do fine.
2) I’ve wanted to read a Tatiana de Rosnay book for awhile, so I jumped at the chance to read this. I can’t say I read the synopsis closely before I requested the ARC, just requested it.
It was an absolute win on the first point. Paris is a main character in this story. The individual streets, the parks, the arrondisements, the statues… they all play a role in the story. And, as the title suggests, it is raining Paris. Flooding, really, because the rain won’t stop and the Seine overflows it’s banks with a viciousness that brings a modern, bustling city to it’s knees. This has happened in Paris, as de Rosnay illustrates with details of the catastrophic 1910 flood, throughout history and will likely happen again.
Honestly, I’d read a nonfiction account of the 1910 flood. Or the most recent flood in January 2018. Anything Paris, really, because Paris is history.
But the flood in THE RAIN WATCHER is a supporting plot that is a background for the true plot – the trials and tribulations of the Malegarde family. In short, anything bad that can happen to a family has happened to the Malegarde family. Linden, named after his father’s favorite tree, flees his rural French home as a teenage because he’s being bullied at school for being gay and he doesn’t feel like he can be open even with his American mother and French father. Tilia, his sister who carries the Latin name of their father’s favorite tree, had a daughter young, got divorced young, was the only survivor of a horrific car crash, and is married to a controlling drunk. Linden found a safe haven with his aunt in Paris and then became a world-famous photographer who seems to do his best to not get too personal with his family while regretting that they don’t know the man he loves well.
The plot comes together when the four Malegarde’s, parents and children, gather in rainy Paris for father Paul’s 70th birthday. And then all sorts of calamity strikes, leading to scenes of weeping at hospitals, dramatic evacuations from flooded places, and angsty confrontations between family.
There were some threads in the story that seemed dropped (like why mother Lauren refused to allow Linden’s boyfriend Sacha or Tilia’s husband or daughter to come or clarity in terms of the ‘flashbacks’ about Suzanne) but the ending of the story was fitting enough. There was tragedy and there was happiness.
This is how families work.