Lead Review

  • Book: The Martins
  • Location: Paris
  • Author: David Foenkinos

Review Author: Tina Hartas



As an author, where do you find inspiration for your next book? The struggling protagonist in this novel decides to go out onto the street and accost the first person he meets, in the hope that he or she will be open to him trawling through their life for inspiration. And their family and friends. He is initially hopeful that he will alight on the rather lovely woman, who has recently caught his eye, but it is Madeleine Tricot – in her 80s – whom he coaxes into doing his bidding.

She introduces him to her daughter, her husband and her family, who are the eponymous Martins of the title.

He of course learns a great deal about family dynamics, the loves, the losses and yearnings of each member and the  ‘ecosystem’, as it were, of the family. By simply inserting himself into the construct and just being in their lives, he brings about inevitable change as he probes and poses questions and listens to their stories. By responding and giving thought to their individual predicaments, they learn that they do have control over their destiny.

It is actually a fascinating concept, that by simply adding another character into a family framework, individuals can express feelings and dissatisfactions in a way that has hitherto not been possible. They learn to scrutinise their own feelings.

Beyond the heart of the story, the author too has a lost love who comes into stark focus. Madeleine herself has stories of Karl Lagerfeld to tell, as she worked in his atelier, and memories, too, of her first love – she has never comprehended the ending and would love to find closure. Of course, the author comes to her rescue.

The story is bound together by irony and self-deprecating humour and I very much enjoyed the narration by Charles Johnston.

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