Mrs. Sell's Blog of Household Management

Currently reading: Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris

Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris by Sarah Turnbull

A memoir by Australian journalist Sarah Turnbull, recounts her experiences as a foreigner living in France with her French boyfriend (eventually husband).
I bought this book several years ago, having developed an interest in France while studying the language in high school and college, and taking a 10-day trip to Paris, Normandy and Brittany. I am re-reading it now, riding a wave of Francophilia begun by the casual decision to watch Julie and Julia, which led to reading the book, which led to reading My Life in France by Julia Child, then to Mastering the Art of French Cooking, then the serendipitous release of Bringing Up Bébé and French Kids Eat Everything. Sometimes everything just falls into place. I also like reading several books at a time about any subject in which I develop an interest; then I can tell what is most likely to be true and what turns out to be a personal foible on the part of the author.

Almost French is a pleasant little ramble through French culture, particularly Parisian, as seen from the outside. Turnbull has a matter-of-fact style, generally describing her emotions without becoming too maudlin in the telling. She includes several of her painful gaffes, so if you don’t like cringing at other people’s blunders, this is probably not your cup of tea. Most of the stories are personal to her: her struggles to find work, to navigate French social life, to understand French women, and to make a go of a relationship that, in addition to the normal struggles of marriage, includes extreme culture shock.

For now, this book is a real-life confirmation of Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl (speaking of my French book binge). Perhaps next I will dig out my Peter Mayle collection – an author I highly recommend for his exquisite use of the English language, as well as his descriptions of France. Alors, au revoir, bon appetit et bonne nuit.

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