This book is delightful and even funny in parts. But it also contains some wisdom--and not only about learning to live happily in a foreign country: One thing that stuck in my mind was how Turnbull at first disliked the French custom of going back (in her case, going back with her boyfriend) to be with one's family *every* weekend, but after a while, she realized that your mate comes as a package, so to speak, and you can't cut out an important part of his/her life, so she stopped resisting. In the end, she came to love his family and enjoyed them.
I posted this book into the system several months ago so others could enjoy it, too, but it is one that I wouldn't mind reading again!
I love anything about living in Paris. Visited a number of times, considered a year residency. This has some interesting insights to the experience of living as an ex-pat. Offers ideas on why the louder, more direct, laugh-out-loud Anglo Saxon doesn't play well in Paris.
Although, Sarah talks about her dislike of returning to her boyfriend's family home in Northern France calling it depressing and dreary. She then spends a lot of time enthusing over her own home of Sydney. She doesn't seem to allow that home is where you were raised and your heart will always have a cockeyed affinity for home however unattractive others find it.
I really enjoyed this author's view of her integration into French culture/society. Her opinions and experiences are more accurate, truthful and realistic than other books that I have read of this genre. For those that love "all things French" this is a good book to read. I appreciate her honesty and candor.
This was a very, very detailed account of an Aussie woman who moves to France. You'd think every single French person was identical based on the generalizations she makes. It was just okay, I really thought it was long and often boringly detailed. I would love to hear a real French man or woman comment, it's hard to believe her generalities. I was actually surprised to realize it was a true story, the author didn't even seem like a "real" Aussie to me based on the Aussie's I've known. I guess it's pretty hard to characterize the people of a whole country as one, but it seemed like that's what she tried to do.
A bestseller in Turnbull's native Australia, this cute firsthand look at the hardships of settling into a city infamously chilly to outsiders gives a glimpse of the true nature of Parisians and daily life in their gorgeous city. Though Turnbull tells readers less about love than new life, it was in falling for a Frenchman that the journalist found herself moving to Paris, for a few months that stretched into years. The cultural relationship is challenging enough, leaving aside the more intimate personal story (though readers do learn enough about Turnbull's now husband to understand her decision to stay), and she writes of finding work, making friends, surviving dinner parties and adapting to the rhythms and pace of life with a Parisian boyfriend with humor and a developing sense of wisdom. Of the struggle to adapt to her new home in the mid-1990s, the author writes, "I've discovered a million details that matter to me-details that define me as non-French" no matter how much she tries to assimilate, while over time she grows to appreciate some perplexing aspects of French culture, as "[e]veryday incidences elevate into moments of clarity simply because they would never, ever happen in your old home," from developing her confrontational side enough to defend herself (in French) from rude remarks to receiving advice from "a terribly chic blonde who advises me to use eye-makeup remover on Maddie's [Turnbull's dog's] leaky eyes." This is an engaging, endearing view of the people and places of France. (Amazon)
This account of a 20-plus Australian woman's adventures as she tried to adjust to Parisian ways is both insightful and funny. Having taken a year off from her job with a TV network, Turnbull moved to Paris to be with her new lover, Frederic. She found that the French weren't interested in making new friends; were unwilling to discuss their jobs, hobbies, or much of anything except the food they were eating, planning to eat, or had eaten; and they wished to socialize in mixed groups-no girls' night out for them. But Frederic, with patience and aplomb, helped her overcome these obstacles, depicted in a series of vignettes that sketch many of the fascinations and foibles of becoming "almost French." She detested visiting Frederic's family in northern France, with its rainy, cold beaches, but finally warmed to his home, and was accepted by them. The couple's marriage was almost an anticlimax after a hilarious birthday celebration for 80 at the old home. This clash of cultures is, ultimately, a love story.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL REVIEW
This is a partial autobiography of Sarah Turnbull, an Australian journalist. While on vacation in Bucharest, Sarah meets a young Frenchman who invites her to visit him for a week in Paris. Truly enlightening about how the French treat each other and their cultural differences from Americans (and Australians).
My project of experiencing France vicariously through others continues with Ms. Turnbull's adventures as an Australian living in Paris, and I have to say, this account surprised me more than once. My previous experiences were through the frivolous and gossipy All You Need To Be Impossibly French by Helena Frith-Powell and the reserved but admiring Entre Nous by Debra Ollivier. These two ladies presented the French, Parisian women in particular, as confident, chic intellectuals who prefer to spend the afternoon reading a good book in solitude. Ms. Turnbull showed us a different picture. Her Parisians are lonely people riddled with insecurities, fatigued by the structure and rules of the city. Her Paris is a city of contrasts, with perfectly manicured gardens and parks, charming quartiers, beautiful architecture, and streets smelling like urine because while asking to use the bathroom of the people you're visiting may be considered a faux pas apparently urinating outside their building is perfectly acceptable.
Fortunately this is only one side of the story and Ms. Turnbull does a good job of finding and maintaining balance in her narrative. Perhaps it's a journalistic trait, to examine the subject from all sides and report on both the positive and the negative. Or may be it's that life's full of both. In a way Almost French is like a Cinderella story: an Australian girl risks it all by moving to France, has a terrible time of it at first, then finds her stride, learns the language and how to navigate the society, and settles in to a happy life in a city she loves with a man she adores.
The book is full of stories of how all that happened, from the desparation of not being able to find work and eating all the chocolate in the apartment, to the exhilaration of telling off a rude stranger without missing a beat, to the surprise of being overshadowed by her own dog, and they're all written in a fun, engaging way that's personal without becoming too sentimental or giving too much information. There are times when the author sounds a bit whiny, or somewhat pushy, but fortunately those times are fleeting.
One of my favorite things about this book is that it doesn't focus only on the usual subjects of fashion, food and seduction but ventures beyond to the issues of actually living in the city, meeting new people, growing to love the villages and towns beyond Paris, learning to appreciate all the different layers of society in one's quartier and getting things done despite the many rules and regulations that come with living in a coveted zip code. When I finished it I felt like I've actually seen some of the reality beyond what tourists usually see, or what the other two authors either didn't experience or didn't choose to share with their readers. It's a nice to have a differet view even though Ms. Turnbull writes about Paris and France in the 1990s and things may have changed, although I am confident that whatever changes took place they didn't radically alter Paris, France or the French.
This is a wonderful book if you love to armchair travel like myself! "For anyone who has ever traveled in Europe, enjoyed a holiday romance, dreamed of living in Paris or taken off on an adventure far from home, this is the book for you. Part travelogue, part love story, it documents the experience of an Australian journalist who moves to Paris, tries to adapt to live there, but fails miserably at times, and of the seismic impact this has on her romance with a Frenchman to whom she's now married. Highly entertaining." The Australian Women's Weekly
Such great fun to read! I learned so much about Paris, a city I've always wanted to call home, and what it might be like to live there. What a wonderful adventure the writer's life has become and it sounds like she found the perfect partner with which to share it (and dog, too!).
The author falls for a French man, moves in with him in Paris, and tries to fit in. It's difficult----she's Australian! The culture clash is funny and entertaining. Looking forward to her next adventure, coming out this fall.
A journalist in her late twenties meets a Frenchman in Romania and is invited to visit him for two weeks in Paris. Her French and his English both leave much to be desired and it is painful to try to live in a French society that generally makes her feel invisible, but eventually the charm of Frederic, Paris, and France itself win out and she settles down there happily. On the way are some very interesting insights about the French and some very funny gaffes that were not funny to the author at the time.
Finally, I understand the French a little, no ALOT better!!!
And French women......the poor things......too much seduction at the expense of too little trust. Fun for the men but not so for the women.
And to be a dog in Paris!!! Heavenly!! I was also impressed that they ALL know how to "touch" dance. (No explanation if they are born that way.)
Still, I would choose to stay my happy, sloppy, laugh-out-loud American self.
If you liked "A Year In Provence" you''ll love this book.Sarah takes a chance at life with a man she meets and falls in love with. She moves to Paris to be with him. You'll learn about culture clashes and navigating life in a foreign country---and it's funny too!
A memoir of an Australian woman who moves to Paris on a whim and ends up marrying a Frenchman. It describes the travails of being a foreigner in France, particularly in Paris, where fitting in is all that matters and nearly impossible.