Not long ago, a typical day in Genevieve Martin’s life changed pretty dramatically. After discovering her husband was having an affair, and then her beloved uncle passed away, Genevieve made an impulsive, life-altering decision: to move to Paris and take over her late uncle’s locksmith shop in the Village Saint Paul, in the 4th arrondisement of Paris.
It was a radical move, and every day Genevieve wonders whether she was crazy for relocating to a foreign country. But then, this being Paris, she usually gets distracted by amazing food or beautiful locales.
In her new home in Paris, Genevieve wakes up and throws open her windows to the cobblestone courtyard that houses a number of neighboring antiques shops. She musters her courage to try to speak French, and greets her neighbors and passersby, many of whom are strolling with fresh flowers or baguettes in hand.
Then Genevieve usually heads out to her favorite boulangerie to buy her own fresh baguettes – and perhaps a pain au chocolat (a mouth-watering chocolate croissant) – from her new Parisian friend, Sylviane. Sylviane complains to Genevieve about her five brothers, none of whom want to go into the family business, which leaves her saddled with the bakery and forever smelling like fresh bread. Not that that’s a bad thing, Genevieve tells her.
Afterward, Genevieve grabs her uncle’s old leather satchel full of locksmithing tools and makes house calls, opening a few locked doors, replacing antique locks, and installing security bars. Genevieve learned her trade at her uncle’s knee when she came to visit him as a teenager, not long after her mother died. For years, back in the US, she bought old locks at thrift stores and practiced opening them as a form of meditation. But now she’s taken over her uncle’s role as neighborhood locksmith, which allows her to peek into ancient stone homes and to get to know her Parisian neighbors.
Lunch is a falafel-stuffed pita from the Rue des Rosiers, or perhaps a sandwich from a cart – though, this being Paris, the simple bread filled with a little butter and ham is scrumptious. She eats in the Place des Vosges, one of the few plazas where people are invited to lounge on the cool lawn –usually in Paris people are asked to keep off the grass. A violinist plays in one corner, taking advantage of the acoustics of the covered walk’s vaulted ceiling. Genevieve likes to think about all the activities that have taken place in this town square over the years; especially the fact that Victor Hugo –-author of the Hunchback of Notre Dame– used to live right here, at apartment number 6.
In the afternoon, Genevieve might make a key for one of the clients who stop by the tiny locksmith shop – no bigger than a closet—on the Rue Saint Paul. Or she might continue the never-ending job of sorting through her uncle and aunt’s things in their little apartment behind the shop. Their daughter, Catharine, is now a therapist on the other side of town, near Montmartre. Catharine rarely comes back to the Village Saint Paul. Genevieve isn’t sure why, but she understands that family dynamics are complex. She’s happy to do her cousin this favor, and enjoys looking through the scraps and papers and antiques.
Finally, in the evening, a handsome Irishman named Killian stops by for something called “apero”—a little drink and snack before dinner. Killian’s a photographer, and if he can talk Genevieve into a little adventure they might well go down to explore the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris, or perhaps to visit an abandoned Chateau in the Loire Valley, just to see what they find.
Because for Genevieve Martin a “Day in the Life” in Paris is always a surprise.
About The Paris Key
An American in Paris navigates her family’s secret past and unlocks her own future, in this emotionally evocative novel by New York Times bestselling author Juliet Blackwell.
As a girl, Genevieve Martin spent the happiest summer of her life in Paris, learning the delicate art of locksmithing at her uncle’s side. But since then, living back in the States, she has become more private, more subdued. She has been an observer of life rather than an active participant, holding herself back from those around her, including her soon-to-be-ex-husband.
Paris never really left Genevieve, and, as her marriage crumbles, she finds herself faced with an incredible opportunity: return to the magical city of her youth to take over her late uncle’s shop. But as she absorbs all that Parisian culture has to offer, she realizes the city also holds secrets about her family that could change her forever, and that locked doors can protect you or imprison you, depending on which side of them you stand.
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About the author
Juliet Blackwell’s latest novel is about a woman who takes over her uncle’s locksmith shop in Paris and discovers family secrets, entitled The Paris Key. Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of the Witchcraft Mystery series and the Haunted Home Renovation Mystery series. As Hailey Lind, she wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover’s Mystery series. A former anthropologist and social worker, Juliet has worked in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France.