Thursday, September 10, 2015

Review: THE PARIS KEY by Juliet Blackwell

Publisher: NAL
Pub. Date: September 1, 2015
Genre: Women's Fiction
Source: Print ARC

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've had a tough time getting into The Paris Key. Mainly, I felt a huge disconnect to the story and most importantly the characters. The descriptions were spot on, it felt as though you were in Paris and drinking deliciously hot, hot chocolate. But there was still that factor of not being able to connect. Not to mention there would be times that I would nod off in the middle of a sentence. I quite literally had to make myself even finish the book.

Maybe it's just the wrong moment, wrong time to read this. I seem to be the only one with the belief that this wasn't as good as it could have been. I wish I could read this and rate it good just like everyone else, but that would be dishonest. My honest opinion aside from everything I've already said is, I didn't like the book at all. Was the writing good? I believe so. Characters? Good, but not ones that I could get with on an emotional level. Overall story? Well, it's there is that...

Genevieve, our main protagonist, ups and leaves California to take over her late uncles locksmith shop in Paris. Being a locksmith was something of a passion for Genevieve ever since her uncle, Dave, taught her the trade when she was younger. She became a copy editor instead. When she reaches Paris, she meets the neighbors and friends of Dave. Then things start happening. Things like Genevieve finding out things from her past. Maybe secrets really should be left in the past.

The Paris Key is filled with mystery, sorrow, and endings that one could find themselves believing in again.  Although this wasn't the story for me, I feel like I could still read the author seeing as her writing is on point. There are just times when you can't connect no matter how hard you try. Don't let my opinion or review deter you from reading the story. I just have my own personal tastes in books and this one didn't quite reach out to me.

* Thank you to the publisher for providing a copy for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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About the Author:

Juliet Blackwell (aka Julie Goodson-Lawes, aka Hailey Lind) started out life in Palo Alto, California, born of a Texan mother and a Yankee father. The family soon moved to what were, at the time, the sticks of Cupertino, an hour south of San Francisco. Walking to and from kindergarten every day she would indulge in her earliest larcenous activity: stealing walnuts and apricots from surrounding orchards.

By the time she graduated middle school, the orchards were disappearing and the valley at the southern tip of the San Francisco Bay had become the cradle of the silicon semi-conductor. A man named Steve Jobs was working in his garage in Cupertino, just down the street. Juliet's father advised his daughters to enter the lucrative and soon-to-flourish field of computers.

"Bah" said Juliet, as she went on to major in Latin American Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz (they had, by far, the best parties of any department). Rather than making scads of money in computers, she read, painted, learned Spanish and a little French and Vietnamese, lived in Spain and traveled through Europe, Mexico, and Central America. She had a very good time.

Juliet pursued graduate degrees in Anthropology and Social Work at the State University of New York at Albany, where she published several non-fiction articles on immigration as well as one book-length translation. Fascinated with other cultural systems, she studied the religions, folklore and medical beliefs of peoples around the world, especially in Latin America. Juliet taught the anthropology of health and health care at SUNY-Albany, and worked as an elementary school social worker in upstate New York. She also did field projects in Mexico and Cuba, studied in Spain, Italy, and France, worked on a BBC production in the Philippines, taught English as a second language in San Jose, and learned how to faux finish walls in Princeton, New Jersey. After having a son, moving back to California, and abandoning her half-written dissertation in cultural anthropology, Juliet started painting murals and portraits for a living. She has run her own mural/faux finish design studio in Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco, for more than a decade. She specializes in the aesthetic renovation of historic homes.

Finally, to round out her tour of lucrative careers, Juliet turned to writing. Under the pseudonym of Hailey Lind, Juliet penned the Art Lover's Mystery Series with her sister Carolyn, about an ex-art forger trying to go straight by working as a muralist and faux finisher in San Francisco. The first of these, Feint of Art, was nominated for an Agatha Award; Shooting Gallery and Brush with Death were both IMBA bestsellers, and Arsenic and Old Paint is now available from Perseverance Press.

Juliet's Witchcraft Mystery series, about a witch who finally finds a place to fit in when she opens a vintage clothes shop on Haight Street in San Francisco, allows Juliet to indulge yet another interest—the world of witchcraft and the supernatural. Ever since her favorite aunt taught her about reading cards and tea leaves, Juliet has been fascinated with seers, conjurers, and covens from many different cultures and historic traditions. As an anthropologist, the author studied and taught about systems of spirituality, magic, and medicine throughout the world, especially in Latin America. Halloween is by far her favorite holiday.

When not writing, painting, or haranguing her funny but cynical teenaged son, Juliet spends a lot of time restoring her happily haunted house and gardening with Oscar the cat, who ostensibly belongs to the neighbors but won't leave her alone. He started hanging around when Juliet started writing about witches...funny coincidence.

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