THE PARIS KEY by Juliet Blackwell

Publisher: NAL
Released: September 1, 2015
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★

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.

I’m a longtime fan of Juliet Blackwell’s cozy mysteries, so I was excited about her first foray into mainstream fiction. THE PARIS KEY is a poignant story about family secrets, loss, moving forward, and, of course, the beauty of Paris.

The story is told from the point of view of two women, Genevieve and her mother, Angela, in different time periods. Paris has been a refuge for them both, especially to Genevieve, first after her mother’s death, and now at the end of her marriage. Angela briefly left her family and fled to Paris many years earlier, and Genevieve was in for quite a shock at what went on during her mother’s stay. It’s hard to keep secrets buried, even ones locked away in the abandoned tunnels below Paris.

The author’s rich descriptions of life in Paris drew me in – the culture, food, people, and interesting sights. I especially loved that the author made Genevieve’s experiences as an American in Paris realistic. She struggled with the language, some customs, and the bureaucracy, but in the end, it was all worth it.

THE PARIS KEY is a lovely story about a woman coming to terms with her mother’s past and reinventing herself in the process, sure to delight fans of contemporary women’s fiction.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.