Harp performer Madame Marie Williams and her husband, a dentist, moves to the 102 Boulevard Haussmann building in Paris in the spring of 1908, and this incident leaves a ‘small’ mark in the literary world. Because, their new neighbor is the French writer Marcel Proust, and the ‘noise pollution’ the couple cause during the restoration influences Proust’s world. When Proust has difficulties in working and sleeping due to the construction sounds, he decides to communicate with his neighbors in his own language and style. A correspondence begins between Proust and Madame Marie.

This is a novel miniature as Proust’s student Jean-Yves Tadié mentions in the book’s preface. A bit of imagination, knowledge on Proust and French breeze are mandatory to complete the missing pieces. It is a pleasure in itself to grasp Proust’s elaborative approach, his gentle tone, and his profound empathetic efforts. It is also a review/study of an era: We witness how a generation lives with art, poetry and kindness.

These are the traces of a romantic era. The products of gracefulness, kind requests and precious gifts accompany delicately written emotions. At some point, Proust shares parts from the second volume of his masterpiece ‘In Search of Lost Time’; other times a magnificent bouquet of flowers complement the letter. When it is Proust we talk about, who is known for his sensitivity towards – or even phobia of – noise, the literary value of the letter series proves to be indisputable. There is so much to learn from Proust’s letters.