‘Go out into the street and the first person you see will be the subject of your next book.’

This is the challenge a struggling Parisian writer sets himself, imagining his next heroine might be the mysterious young woman who often stands smoking near his apartment … instead it’s octogenarian Madeleine. She’s happy to become the subject of his book – but first she needs to put away her shopping.

Is it really true, the writer wonders, that every life is the stuff of novels, or is his story doomed to be hopelessly banal? As he gets to know Madeleine and her family, he’ll be privy to their secrets: lost loves, marital problems and workplace worries. And he’ll soon realise he is not the impartial bystander he intended to be, but a catalyst for major changes in the lives of his characters.

Told with Foenkinos’s characteristic irony and self-deprecating humour, yet filled with warmth, The Martins is a compelling tale of the family next door which raises questions about what it means to be ‘ordinary’, and about the blurred lines between truth and fiction.




Belgravia Books


Just how does a writer struggling for inspiration solve the problem?! In this book, the Parisian writer pledges to write about the first person he sees in the street, secretly hoping it’s the mysterious young neighbour he’s not managed to speak to yet….. but the universe makes him cross paths with Madeleine instead! An octogenarian whose most pressing thought is she needs to put her shopping away!!

And what follows is something that he, and you as the reader, doesn’t really expect. Under the spotlight, this woman who could have easily been an invisible person to the rest of the world, sees this as an opportunity to open up and reveal family secrets and tell her story – one that probably not many, if any, would think worth telling. But the more he delves, and the more her family get involved in the project he becomes privy to some astonishing tales and confessions. Far from the dull project he imagined when he first meets Madeleine and imagines her life to be somewhat underwhelming…… appearances can be very deceptive!

It really shows the beauty of connecting with people and both sides getting something out of a friendship – he almost becomes therapist to this family, and they in return allow him to evaluate his own life and connections with family and friends. It becomes very cathartic for all involved allowing for humour and much more touching revelations.

It is a story of reconnecting, regrets, rifts and romance and I thoroughly enjoyed the way the author approached the way of storytelling and the impact of opening up to others allows them all to take stock and take action in their lives.


My thanks to the team at Gallic Books for the advanced reader copy in return for a fair and honest review.


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