The Paris Key: A Novel. Juliet Blackwell. Penguin Group (USA). September 2014. 384 pp. ISBN#: 9780451473691.
Genevieve Martin learned the art of the locksmith as a child from her Uncle Dave who lived in a lovely little village in Paris, France. She lost her mother, Angela, at a very young age and has never fully recovered from that devastating loss. Now she knows she’s at a dead end in life and now decides to get a divorce from her husband. For the time being she has come to Paris after being notified of the death of her Uncle Dave. He has left her his locksmith shop; and while there will be many difficulties getting a permit to work in France and obtain a locksmith license, she arrives in Paris to see what happens. Her husband has been unfaithful to her, just once as he says, but that is enough to energize her to make the changes she knows are pivotal for her own survival.
Her arrival in Paris is not a quiet one. Her Uncle’s home is dirty and old-looking, more like an antique shop than a modern hardware store for locks. But what is even more astonishing, delightful and even rather overwhelming is the immediate and constant flow of Parisian neighbors, friends and acquaintances of her Uncle. They know of her love for her Uncle and are determined to help her settle in and learn to love their beloved city. By the time you are done with this novel, you will want to travel to the City of Lights and experience all you read about in these pages so carefully, sincerely and dramatically presented. It’s a place to fall in love with and here Genevieve begins her new life.
The story is told in the third person and fluctuates with not only Genevieve’s story but also that of her mother, Angela. There’s an added mystery that involves Uncle Dave, a Basque artist, a Parisian baker, underground tunnels that were used in WWII by the Resistance to hide Jews and other political characters escaping imprisonment and death by the Nazis and ghosts of the past from long, long ago.
The Paris Key… is a unique story that is a different type of romance, mystery and coming of age tale. It’s even better than a travel guide because it carries the essence of friendship, food, drink, story, and history that one can only convey through Parisian residents. Delightful and highly recommended!