15 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
Jean C. reviewed C'est La Vie : An American Woman Begins a New Life in Paris and--Voila!--Becomes Almost French on + 9 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
I truly enjoyed this book from cover to cover. I've been to Paris many times and found her info to be accurate. Some reviews of this book pointed out that she writes too much about shopping. I didn't find that to be true. Besides, I liked the shopping tips that she gave when she did write about it. I found this book inspiring in the sense that this woman who lost her husband was able to start a new life in Paris. Loved it!
I just couldn't identify with Ms. Gershman. She neglected the things that would interest me if I moved to France, like the culture and history, and concentrated on things that would not, like shopping and the Parisian social whirl.
As someone who has fantasized about moving to another country, I found this book to be ... interesting. Things I liked: the author included the mundane, but useful, details like: how much sheets cost, what American standards weren't available in France, how to adjust to the cultural differences like the size of the average US apartment vs. average French apartment, etc. She talked a LOT about money, which I liked. If you're looking for a real "how-to guide" for undertaking an overseas move, this is a book I would recommend. However, it is obvious that, despite the author's attempt to portray herself as "an average American," she has a lot more funds than the average person! It was ironic to read her worries about the cost of the move, the cost of shipping her belongings, the cost of renting an apartment, etc, all the while thinking, "geez, if this is hard for her, with her money, it would be IMPOSSIBLE for me!"
After taking into account those two aspects, along with my hopes for what the book would be about, I rated it as average.
I am probably a bit partial, but I loved this book. Suzy Gershman is hilarious - she has a wonderful sense of humor. This is supposed to be the first of a series, so I am anxious for the next one. She takes you through the loss of her husband to moving to another country, to making a new life, to her first french love affair, to coming to terms with the end of her first year as a widow. What a ride!
A book about following your dreams even after life throws you huge obstacles. The descriptions of attempting to learn the french culture from a very American standpoint made me laugh out loud! The author is actually a travel writer, and along with descriptions of great finds (from out of the way hotels, to fabulous bargain shopping!) she gives the ACTUAL ADDRESSES of the places she is talking about! You could easily plan a trip to Paris after reading this book :).
I enjoyed this book. You have to view this author's writing in the context of her expertise, shopping and dining. I have used her Born to Shop travel guidebooks(now published by Frommer's)for many years and for many cities and countries. They are excellent guides for shopping, dining, and what parts of the cities/countries will be worthwhile and which parts to skip. They are NOT guides for cultural activities, museums, historical places, etc. The best recommendations are for who has the best restrooms on your travels. This book is much more personal than the Born to Shop series.
This is one of the books I found through PaperBack Swap recommendations after reading Entre Nous and giddily requested it hoping for a similarly pleasant experience. It was tough going at first. By page 70 I was thoroughly annoyed with Ms. Gershman because at that point the book read more like a shopping instruction manual with endless mentions of Born to Shop and incessant dropping of names of famous people and brands that began bordering in pretentious. "Is this really who you are, Suzy?" I kept thinking. I get it, this is her life and her social circle, but had it not been for brief glimmers of hope in the form of short entries that actually talked about Paris and the French lifestyle and people unrelated to luxury merchandise and who's who of the Parisian "it" list I would have given up and moved on. I did stick with it though and was rewarded with longer chapters that gave me what I came to Ms. Gershman for - a glimpse of her experience living the French life.
As the book progressed and the chapters got longer and less healfhearted Ms. Gershman's personality began to come through and I began to see something in her that was more than a woman spending away her husband's life insurance money. I could see a practical woman having a hard time but determined to not fall apart, a woman rediscovering and reinventing herself, following her dream and doing it in a foreign country and in a foreign language at that. I liked her spunk and that she had standards and an unfailing sense of humor. I enjoyed her stories about holidays, cooking French deserts for the first time, making new friends and dealing with the internal conflict of nurturing herself and worrying about her son's reaction to her choices. These were real stories and I preferred them to the tales about buying overpriced designer sheets.
This isn't your typical book about starting over in France with the author struggling to make connections outside of the expatriate community or being unreservedly enamored with the French. Ms. Gershman arrived in Paris with a well-established network already in place, she had money, and her lack of fascination with Parisian style is obvious and refreshing. She is unabashedly American and is not trying to blend in. She speaks frankly and in detail about the charm of having an affair and her disenchantment with it, as well as medical issues and the difficulties of navigating the French bureaucratic systems. There is not a gossipy feel like in All You Need to be Impossibly French or the reserved distance like in Entre Nous. It is actually more like Almost French in that the authors see the good and the bad clearly and appreciate France for what it is. I wonder whether these two ladies know each other - they are both freelance journalists and they arrived in Paris at the same time (imagine my surprise when I realized this).
This is a fun book and had the first half been more like the second I would have enjoyed it much more. As it is I would recommend it to those who is moving to Paris or is entertaining the notion, those enjoy shopping, or those who want to see what it's like to live in France. I'm with the last group and some day soon will continue the vicarious adventure.
This was a fantastic light read. You get a great insider view of what it is like to move from America, where everything is at your finger tips, to a foreign land where things are done differently (and aren't as easy to obtain...even in swanky Paris).
It is a great book for anyone wanting to take a vicarious vacation.