Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Madeleine Project: Uncovering a Parisian Life (and, Serendipitously, My Own Little Madeleine Project)

I couldn't resist joining in this France Book Tour for The Madeleine Project. It is filled with many things I love: mystery.

What is The Madeleine Project? It's a project Clara Beaudoux began when she discovered the belongings in the basement that a former tenant of her apartment had left after the tenant's death. 

Beaudoux started sorting through all of the photos and letters and artifacts of the tenant, who Beaudoux learned was named Madeleine, and slowly she began to post pictures and commentary of her findings on Twitter. From this Twitter feed, a book formed.

What sorts of things did Beaudoux find? 

Photos. Letters. 


Travel brochures. 

All the wonderful and mysterious things that make up a long human life. 

It's an absolutely fascinating book about a regular yet quite intriguing person. I was completely drawn deeper and deeper into the story of this woman as Beaudoux found and shared and speculated upon all the comedies and dramas of Madeleine's life. 

I think you might be, too.


Oddly, weeks before I read The Madeleine Project or even knew much about it, I embarked upon my own personal Madeleine Project. My dad has been after me to come over to his house and clean out some of my mother's things. My mom passed away six years ago. Once summer began and I had a little free time, I did. I spent a wonderful day going through a big closet including what had been my mother's cedar chest. I found some amazing things, which I feel led to share with you.

I love going through my mom's recipe box. Lots of these recipes were not only my mom's but my grandma's and my aunts'.

Inside the cedar chest was a big Ziploc of my grandma's valentines from the 1920's. A lot of them are pop-ups.

I found another Ziploc of my grandma's letters to her best friend from Pennsylvania, Dora Pyle. They were written in the 1920's through the 1950's. I was so curious about Dora and how her life turned out that I did a little research and found Dora's daughter-in-law who shared a little about Dora's later years.

Of course, there were bags and bags of old photos. These are a few of my favorites: (top left) my grandpap shooting a gun; ((bottom left) my mom in trouble in a time-out chair of the past ca. 1937; (center) my grandma as a baby ca. 1912; (far right) my grandma in a bathing suit when she worked as a nanny for a rich family vacationing in Florida during the Depression ca. 1931.

The next thing I found was really crazy. My mom took a drawing class about forty years ago. In the cedar chest, I found one of her sketch pads with drawings of (left to right) me, my sister, and my brother. This was so much fun to find.

One of my favorite things I found was an old camera. My sister is a masterful photographer and I plan to give this to her soon.

So there you have it: my own Madeleine Project. I hope you get a chance to read The Madeleine Project and maybe you will be inspired to embark a Madeleine Project of your own.

There is a global giveaway of The Madeleine Project open internationally.

Five participants will each win a copy of this book, print or digital.

Saturday Snapshot is now hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

For more wordless photos, go to Wordless Wednesday.

Please join the weekly meme at An Accidental Blog. Share with the rest of us your passion for France. Did you read a good book set in France? See a movie? Take a photo in France? Have an adventure? Eat a fabulous meal or even just a pastry? Or if you're in France now, go ahead and lord it over the rest of us. We can take it.

Il est Juillet et il est temps pour le merveilleux Paris in July hosted by Thyme for Tea! (*It is July and it is time for the wonderful Paris in July!)


  1. What wonderful discoveries you found at your dad's house, such a treasure trove.

    1. Yes, we also found lots of old handwork that was intriguing.

  2. Thanks for your lovely review. The book is indeed so fascinating, I devoured it in one sitting.
    And it is so cool you just had your own Madeleine Project. Thanks for sharing. Who knows, a book may come out of it?

  3. Very cool!

    I followed your blog, and I would sincerely appreciate it if you checked out my book reviews blog at and possibly give it a follow as well! Excited to read more of your posts!

    - El

  4. How fascinating! I hadn't heard of this book but I've added it to my TBR. Just the idea of those boxes from a stranger fascinate me. How special that you got to know your mom a little better through this and what fantastic discoveries!

  5. Amazing, discovering the life of a person she never knew, and in your case, uncovering new things about your mother. Every life is endlessly rich and fascinating in many ways!

  6. This was definitely a fun post. Thanks for sharing!

  7. What a wonderful adventure :) I loved looking through your parents things. It's so cool to find things that have been in the family for generations :D

    Sarah @ A Weebish Book Blog

  8. Old photos can be so absorbing!

    best... mae at

  9. Deb, I just finished reading The Madeleine Project too. What fun that you had your own sorting project to go through, just like I do with cleaning out my basement. Thanks for commenting on my blog about my mixed feelings of leaving behind Ohio and my children.

  10. I love this idea <3 Not sure which book I would nominate as most original however Still Alice was the first book of its kind I had ever read.


  11. As i sit here in my study, catching up on posts, im faced with a pile of my mother in laws albums. Since she died noone knew whatbto do with them. We finally decided to divide & conquer... i hope to find some treats like you found. I love the idea of the Madeleine project. Thanks

    1. My mom and I spent a day going through her mom's cedar chest after my grandma passed away. My mom and I wrote names in pencil on the back of pictures and put things together in Baggies. I'm glad we did. I hope your experience is also enjoyable.

  12. How wonderful to find such great memories. Thank you for sharing with us. Photos bring the past back to us.
    Carol L
    Lucky4750 (at) aol (dot) com

  13. You've found out such precious things belonging to your Mom, I'm sure you will treasure them all, Dearest friend !

    Wishing you a most lovely end of your week,
    with sincere gratitude

    XOXO Daniela at ~ My little old world ~ (Dany)

  14. What treasures! I hope you'll turn your "Madeline Project" into a book.
    Although I didn't go through all my mom and dad's possessions before they passed away, I did spend a lot of time going through old photos with my dad. Almost every one of them brought forth a story. I treasure that time.
    Thank you for visiting my blog today and leaving a comment.

  15. The book sounds wonderful, and your personal project is like found treasure. It reminds me of going through old trunks after my grandparents died...and finding surprising things.

    Makes me want to organize my own belongings for the inevitable day.

    Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.

  16. Rediscovering old memories is always a great experience!

  17. Deb, Forgot to say, thanks for joining in with Dreaming of France. Hope you'll join in again today. Here’s my Dreaming of France meme

  18. How exciting to have all your work get such a fantastic ending. I'd so love to win the book! I'm sure you had the same feelings when you found your mom's treasures!

  19. Now how did I miss this post? Both Madeleine Projects sound fabulous. I know I will happen upon the book one day. I'm very sad that I haven't managed to participate in Paris in July this year-I need to go check it out actually, I looked very early in the month, but haven't made it back.


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