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Thursday, April 3, 2014


Adria J. Cimino lives in Paris and enjoys sharing her adventures in the city and thoughts about the writing life in her blog Adria in ParisPreviously, she worked as a journalist for more than a decade at news organizations including the Associated Press and Bloomberg News. "Paris, Rue des Martyrs" is her first novel. Learn more about Adria and her book at her website.

Paris, Rue des Martyrs… What’s in a Name?

In my novel, Paris, Rue des Martyrs, a few of the characters live at No. 120 – but don’t try to locate the address on a map. It doesn’t exist! The street, its buildings, cafes and other Montmartre sites certainly inspired my book, but I didn’t describe each existing shop or restaurant to the letter. I felt that it was more important and more interesting to recreate the spirit of the neighborhood.

That spirit was what made it the ideal setting for my book… My characters needed a place that was small enough for their paths to cross, yet large enough for them to get lost in the crowd. And, since the protagonists are each very different, they had to live in a neighborhood where diverse populations co-exist. I didn’t have to mull over the possibilities for very long: The idea for the location and the storyline itself came to me almost simultaneously.

Rue des Martyrs…“Street of Martyrs.”  It’s one of those traffic-stopping sorts of names. But most importantly, it’s one of the Parisian streets that is most unforgettable. When you mention the “Rue des Martyrs” to most Parisians, a dreamy look sets in and the reply is: “My first apartment was on that street,” or “I met my girlfriend there” etc. Things just seem to happen on the Rue des Martyrs. Daily life things that make a difference in people’s lives.

Now the question I’m sure most people are eager to ask… Why such a name? A bit of history: Legend has it that the martyr Saint Denis, carrying his head in his hands (after being decapitated), walked along this path. He collapsed several miles north at the site of today’s Saint-Denis Basilica.

Today, as a Parisian by adoption, I can say that the Rue des Martyrs is almost a representation of Paris as a whole. It is old Paris and new Paris, calm and bustling, uplifting and downtrodden, beauty and squalor. All of this on one street that measures about a half mile in length! I really think that this diversity is what makes the Rue des Martyrs so memorable.

And of course, this path running from the 9th to the 18th arrondissement is the doorway to Montmartre or “mountain of the martyr” (yes, more Saint Denis/martyr references!) Once home to artists such as Toulouse-Lautrec and Renoir, the neighborhood still holds the artistic spirit and village-like charm -- If you wander past the crowds and explore the many side streets!

On the Rue des Martyrs, you will find historic apartment buildings, small shopkeepers selling artisanal cheeses, pastry or gourmet chocolate, florists, an independent bookshop, and of course, cafes where you can sit and watch the world go by. You will even find a loaf of bread named after the street (“Bread of Martyrs”) at a local bakery.

While many well-known Parisian streets have lost charming individual businesses to chain stores and restaurants, the Rue des Martyrs has managed to hang onto them, as well as the neighborhood feel. Rain or shine, it’s one of my favorite spots to settle down at a cafĂ© and daydream.

Paris, Rue des Martyrs
Some encounters make a difference.

Four strangers in Paris. Each one is on a quest: to uncover a family secret, to grasp a new chance at love, to repair mistakes of the past. Four stories entwine, four quests become one, as their paths cross amid the beauty, squalor, animation and desolation of a street in Paris, the Rue des Martyrs. 

Rafael's search for his birth mother leads him to love and grim family secrets. Cecile’s view of herself as an unsatisfied housewife is radically changed by the promise of a passionate liaison. Andre, an aging actor, troubled by the arrival of the son he abandoned years ago, must make a choice, to either lose his son forever or put aside pride and seek redemption. Mira travels to Paris to begin a new life and forget about love… or so she intends.

Four strangers, four stories, one riveting novel.


Adria J. Cimino said...

Thank you for inviting me today! I enjoyed taking you with me for a stroll along the Rue des Martyrs.

Rayne Golay said...

Well familiar with Paris, Rue des Martyrs is a wonderful premise for a story. The street is a story in itself. Your book sounds very interesting. Wish best of luck with it.

Adria J. Cimino said...

Thank you, Rayne! The street and its shops and people have a certain spirit that is so interesting... perfect material for a novel! Or many novels!!

Angela Adams said...

Enjoyed the post. Your blurb indicates a very interesting read.

Adria J. Cimino said...

Thanks, Angela! There are several reviews posted to the novel's Amazon page if you would like more information... If you do pick it up, I hope the novel will transport you to Paris and into the lives of my characters!

Vicki Lesage said...

Having walked up and down this street many times, I loved reading about it in your book! You really picked the perfect setting for the book because it's so true that a wide variety of people populate that street and the surrounding areas. Just thinking about it makes me want to visit Montmartre right now!

Adria J. Cimino said...

Thanks, Vicki! Finding a street such as the Rue des Martyrs makes the writer's job a bit easier because it offers such inspiration. I love discovering places that make me think and spur the urge to create...

Paulita said...

This looks like a terrific book and the setting sounds so French and romantic.

Adria J. Cimino said...

Thanks, Paulita! The street Rue des Martyrs has such a great mix of all that I love about Paris... It was very inspiring to me as a writer!