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Book of the Week: The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

Updated: Sep 6, 2019

The Rain Watcher is a poignant and moving story of a family in crisis. As flood waters rise in Paris, the men and women of the Malegarde clan struggle not to drown under the weight of their own secrets. Through her tender rendering of her characters, Tatiana de Rosnay demonstrates that―in spite of our burdens and our brokenness―redemption and healing are within our grasp.” ―Erika Robuck, national bestselling author of Hemingway’s Girl

When Linden Malegarde comes back to Paris for the first time in years for a family reunion on the occasion of his father Paul's 70th birthday, he is far from expecting the celebration to turn into a huis clos in flooded Paris, during which many family secrets, deeply buried for years, are about to resurface. As arborist Paul suffers a sudden stroke, the family is brought back together, tighter than ever, aware that the fragile harmony keeping them united as a family is fleeting. Linden has to deal with all of the pent up frustration accumulated over the years, and to wrestle with his secret - the fact that he has never come out as gay to his father nor introduced him to his partner, Sacha - in the city of his youth, rendered uncanny, "hardly identifiable, yet painfully familiar,” by the natural disaster. But the other characters are faced with the same insecurities. Linden's relationship with his mother is particularly touching, as she realises the truth she refused to face for decades, in spite of her sincere love for her son.

The novel is partly a tale of estrangement - Linden, both an American in France and a Frenchman in the US, never quite gets the sense of belonging and fulfillment he hopes for. His brilliant career in the US is simultaneously an exile meant to allow him the sense of privacy necessary to his life with Sacha. It is something of a parable of human relations and the human psyche, exposing the secrets that lurk in the happiest of relationships, with our kin, friends, family. But it is mostly a story about redemption, and about the ability to create new, stronger bonds when the old ones have broken.

De Rosnay has been praised for her skills as a "soul seeker", and for her comprehension of the behaviour mechanisms and patterns that make us flawed, but also so deeply human.

“Triumphant…de Rosnay stokes the Malegardes’ histories with raw and powerful reminisces and gorgeous descriptions. This is an emotional tour de force and a thoughtful, deliberate examination of personal tragedy and the possibility of redemption.” ―Publishers Weekly

The Rain Watcher is published by World Editions and it was translated into French by Anouk Neuhoff.

Born from a British mother and a French father, Tatiana de Rosnay writes both in French and in English. She worked as a press agent and a journalist and published her debut novel in 1992. Her first success came in 2006, with the publication of Sarah’s Key – turned into a film in 2011. With twelve published novels, four collections of short stories, two biographies, several other books and three film adaptations, she is one of France’s most read authors: in 2009, she was the 8th best-selling fiction writer in Europe. Her most recent novel, The Rain Watcher, was published in 2018 by World Editions. Originally written in English, it was translated into French by Anouk Neuhoff as Sentinelle de la pluie and published by Héloïse d’Ormesson.

Anouk Neuhoff has translated the likes of Tracy Chevalier, Angela Huth, Kate Moses and Molly Keane. She has recently worked on a new translation of Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.

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