Wednesday, March 30, 2011

French through a foreigner's eys

I should get this out in the open...I'm what they call a 'francophile'. It sounds a bit dinosaury but it's not. It's just that I'm mad on France. Anything French. The scenery, the language, the food, all those little churchy churches - I just love it all. So, I will pick up any book that promises a bit of a window into French life. I'm here to tell you there have been a few...but I have my favourites, and today I'm going share them with you, because even if you're not dinosaury-french-mad, I think you'll enjoy these books.

My Life in France by Julia Child was definitely my 'book of the year' last year, because as well as being set in my fave part of the world, Julia Child is one inspiring woman! And such a nice love story too. It's a goodie.

Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard is a light memoir written by an American girl who fell in love with a French boy and lived with him in Paris. This wasn't my all-time fave, but it was a nice read, and what I found most fascinating about it is Bard's comparisons and contrasts of the cultural mindsets of Americans and French. Her observations were quite enlightening actually, sometimes I think about it, and wonder just where New Zealanders fit between the French and American way of looking at the world.

And any book that promises to talk about French food has to be worth a try, right?

I loved On Rue Tatin and it's follow up book Tarte Tatin. Another memoir/foodie book, American chef Susan Hermann Loomis writes about her move to a small village in Normandy with her husband, where she sets up a cooking school. The combination of french life, food, and dreams realised, made this a very rich and inspiring read. I was so taken by this book, that I attempted to attend one of her cooking classes when I was last in France. Sadly, the dates of the classes didn't match my travel plans, so I settled for seeking out the village that she lived in and standing for a few moments in front of her gate feeling every bit the stalker, but also very starstruck.....and then I went home and attempted a tarte tatin.

I think my very favourite book about France written from a foreigner's standpoint is Almost French by Sarah Turnbull. The story is not dissimilar to Lunch in Paris; a young woman (this time Australian) meets and falls in love with a French boy and they settle together in an apartment in Paris. I don't know what makes this my favourite, but maybe it is because Sarah is Australian, so that the observations that she makes about the differences between Australian and French culture and etiquette are all very familiar to me as a New Zealander. I've read this book more than once, and have had plenty of excited conversations with others who have loved it too.

Let me know what you think of this selection. 

A bientot, Library Girl. x


  1. These sound great! Might have to dig them out of those library shelves sometime... x

  2. ah, I wish I had some space to immerse myself in books, I feel inspired (thought after looking at the cover of almost french, I also feel inspired to fall in love with a french boy and move to an apartment in paris - just don't tell the boy I said that! :-) actually, who needs love, I'd just settle for the moving there!)

  3. I've read and enjoyed all of those too (fellow francophile, there are a lot of us in NZ for some reason?!)


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