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The Secret Life of France Paperback – 1 Aug 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (1 Aug. 2013)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 0571308848
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571308842
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lucy Wadham is a London-born novelist who has lived in France all her adult life and raised four children there. She started writing fiction as a teenager, mostly poems and short stories with a darkish bent. While reading English at Oxford University she, like many aspiring female writers, developed a fixation with Virginia Woolf and begun mooning about in long cardigans and sensible shoes. She had her first child at 21 and was pregnant with her second when she sat her final exams in 1987, after which she moved to France to be with her French husband.

Her first novel, 'Lost', published by Faber and Faber in 2000, was a thriller about a woman whose son is kidnapped while they are on holiday in Corsica. Highly acclaimed for its pace and passion, 'Lost' was nominated for the Golden Dagger crime fiction award and was twice optioned for the screen .

'Castro's Dream', another thriller, was inspired by her work as a freelance journalist investigating the Basque separatist movement, ETA. It tells the story of the love and rivalry between Astrid and Lola, two sisters whose involvement with the terrorist organisation catches up with them after twenty years when their friend and former lover, Mikel, is released from prison.

'Greater Love' "...Twins Aisha and Jose are brought up in Coelhoso, a remote hill-top village only just out of the Middle Ages. The product of a neglected childhood - their mother was raped - Jose never learns to speak, while Aisha, age 20, escapes to Paris. Jose eventually joins his sister, inauspiciously arriving in the city on September 11 2001. The two siblings carve out new lives: Aisha learning about sex and philosophy under the guidance of a Left Bank intellectual; Jose finding his voice with the help of a charismatic Muslim sheikh. At the heart of the ambitious literary saga lies Aisha's quest to understand her brother, and her own part in his final, catastrophic breakdown. Moving from Portugal to Paris, Morocco to California, Wadham manages to endow each chapter of Aisha's life - any section of which might have made a novel in itself - with a stark authenticity." (The Independent).

Her latest book and first work of non-fiction, 'The Secret Life of France', is a memoir of her marriage to a Frenchman and her discovery of a culture that has, over the past 20 years, baffled, appalled, charmed and conquered her.

She is currently working on a novel loosely based on her experience of growing up in a family of five powerful women.

Product Description

Book Description

The Secret Life of France by Lucy Wadham is a funny, personal account of everything you wanted to know about France and French life but were too afraid to ask - from history and culture to sex and politics, especially the diminutive former president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

About the Author

Lucy Wadham was born in London and educated at Oxford. She has lived in France for the past 20 years.Her first novel, Lost, was shortlisted for the Macallan Gold Dagger for Fiction. She is also the author of Castro's Dream and Greater Love.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Charles Vasey TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 9 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback
What Lucy Wadham the racehorse trainer has written a book on France? But no, dear reader, this is Lucy Wadham who went to Oxford and worked for the BBC, living life, as it were, in the raw.

The blurb might have you believing that we're in for a Panorama report on the "The Sexual Life of Catherine M" and indeed there is quite a bit on the way a small part of the French (rich, educated, living in Paris) pursue sexual promiscuity without breaking up their marriages - the "jardin secret". This is not the same territory as Catherine M, but it is a contiguous land-mass and Lucy Wadham describes how it functions. These are the boho bonobos as I call them, amusing in their cages but I would not like them in my house. But just as you are about to shake Lucy warmly by the throat for this generalised picture she's off on other topics and by the end of the book admits that not all the French are like that; indeed they are, like most nations, a lot of different threads.

Lucy discusses a wide number of points including what the French look for in politicians; they must be "hot rabbits" sexually, presumably explaining why Protestant politicians have not had a popular support since Henri of Navarre. Then on to why the French bureaucrats are such a pain; though in truth not turning up with the right document is likely to harden the kindest bureaucratic heart. There are excellent chapters on health services, education, and foreign policy. By the time you arrive at the end a much rounder picture begins to appear. One cannot but wonder if the publisher didn't send a post-it over saying "spice it up early on, love!"

If not as organised as Agnès-Catherine Poirier's French view of the English, Lucy Wadham's return volley has some valuable insights.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 28 Aug. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I cannot but echo all the other positive reviews the book has received. It is now slightly out of date, with heaps of references to the Sarkozy regime, and the main body of the book is very Paris-centric. Nevertheless, it is highly engaging, highly informative and a great read.
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By Timothy Ryan on 4 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nothing one didn't really know but amusing to have it so well described
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mrs Morag Amos on 18 Mar. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book. Having visited France many times, I think this book certainly got under the skin of the French psyche and opened my eyes in terms of their political stance, recent history and their attitude to women and marriage, not to mention the education of children. I have no hesitation in recommending this book to anyone with a love of France and perhaps like me, an over romantic view of the people. Our book club covered it recently and it provided a wonderful evening of discussion.
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