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4.3 out of 5 stars28
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 22 September 2009
I've just finished reading this as well as The Secret Life of France and Talk to the Snail. I would say these are all good books as they all amusing, insightful and thankfully free of dumbing down or stereotyping of the French. If you're trying to choose between them then here is a comparison:
1) A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi: The Ideal Guide to Sounding, Acting and Shrugging Like the French: Arch and hilarious overview that covers a wide variety of subjects. Covers a bit more ground than 'Talk to the snail' and with a bit more experience.
2) The Secret Life of France: This delves a lot deeper than the other two and is also hilarious in parts. Combines biography with revealing insights into the French character. The only book which also covers the serious / negative side of life in France - racial tension etc. Also good if you plan to educate your children in France as it has some information about the education system, how kids behave etc.
3) Talk to the Snail: Very funny book written by a younger author than the other two, slightly less incisive and definitely written from a male perspective - so not many insights on the dating game for women in here. Still great fun - probably the best book for you if you are a young single guy going to France. Subject matter quite similar to 'A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi' so maybe not worth buying both.

In a nutshell I would say buy either 'A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi' or 'Talk to the Snail' as these cover quite similar subject matter and 'tricks' for getting by in France. If you are looking for deeper insights, then also get 'The Secret Life of France'.
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on 10 August 2009
I recommend this book to anyone who loves to visit France - or indeed who lives there - and wants to get to grips with French day-to-day living. It covers just about every aspect of things French - from whom to kiss and how (and the right word to use!) via how to decipher a menu and various uses for a bidet! The author is English but has lived in France for more than twenty years and has a French wife, so he has learnt all this from experience and is a very, very funny writer. I bought his first book called PARDON MY FRENCH - about the French words you don't learn at school - and this is a companion volume - but even funnier and more useful. There have been a lot of books around on France and the French but for my money this is the best. It's a really appealing shape as well; definitely five stars.
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I have just read the Lucy Wadham book which is quite a serious introduction by an Englishwoman to French life, but somehow I felt I learned much more from this little, funny, light-hearted book which for me just gets right to the heart of the weird differences about living in France. That they hang their duvets out the window in the morning. That they only recycle the tops of plastic water bottles. And finally, why they say "Chapeau!" if you've done something good.

I've been to French classes for many years but lots of little phrases in this book I've learned for the very first time. It's just great, short, sweet, to the point, and totally full of the authentic stuff. He is so entertaining, I will now definitely order the other book by him.
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on 31 August 2009
An ideal companion to Mr Timoney's first opus. Whereas before in his first book he took us on a guided tour around the French language, in this one it's more about French behaviour, which can be far more difficult to comprehend! Yet again, it's all written in his inimitable style, encompassing a gentle and delicate wit, but occasionally including the sort of 'laugh-out-loud' passages which might make this difficult reading matter on a crowded commuter train...

To anyone visiting France, or indeed thinking about setting up home in this country, I'd recommend both Charles Timoney's books as essential reading. Not only instructional, but also great fun as well.
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on 9 November 2009
Having lived in France for over 8 years, there are still things about the French I don't really know about. This book helped me to understand a lot of things which didn't really occur to me. It is well researched and very interesting and the author obviously has first hand experience, being married to a French citizen and having worked in France.

There were times that I felt daft in the company of French people for saying or using the incorrect word or phrase, but I now know that I am not alone. Thank you Charles.

Well worth the read.
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on 10 February 2010
During another typical Normandy winter huddling by the wood burner this book made me laugh out loud. Very well written, very observant and very true!!!
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on 4 September 2009
Reading this book, I wonder if Charles Timoney has fallen out of love with France and the French. Too much of the text describes the English form of some aspect of life or speech with an unwritten subtext indicating that he now finds the Gallic way-of-life tiresome.

In addition, the final 10% or so of the book is a reprint of his earlier work "Pardon my French", an altogether more pithy read.

Roger Middleton.
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on 10 August 2009
I'm sure you have enjoyed "Pardon my French" by the same author, which is great, but this is even better! Full of lovely anecdotes and useful words for every situation - a must have.
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on 26 November 2012
Loved the book, it informed me tremendously and made me chuckle. I can recommend it to anyone who just visits France, let alone, lives there.
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on 4 September 2009
A very useful collection of tips and wrinkles about getting by in French and in France, written in a lighthearted style. Perhaps a bit too light-hearted: I don't think this is as good as his first book 'Pardon my French' but good all the same.
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