Top critical review
13 people found this helpful
on 10 December 2014
I was intrigued by the table of contents in the free sample and really looked forward to reading this book, but it left me a little disappointed for the price.
Most of it was sound advice, but in my humble opinion, a lot of it did not go past common sense, and a small number of the lessons went beyond practicing the real art of living and into rather frivolous territory. For example, in terms of decorating your living space, you were advised to prioritise aesthetics over comfort because it encouraged you to live more formally with better posture. (But what a pity it is if you can't fully relax in your own home!) In another lesson, the author went into great detail about her personal skincare routine which sounds torturously precise, product-laden and over-the-top.
The anecdotes are quite entertaining but I am a little incredulous that Madame Chic, elegant and well-mannered as she was, would be so uncouth as to constantly stop the writer in her tracks and tell her in a passive-aggressive way what was wrong with her clothes/taste/general sloppy American-ness. Fair dues, I'm sure some creative liberty had to be taken in the depiction of events, but I find it hard to envision such a lack of class in an elegant lady, even if she was never rude outright. (Ironic because later on there was specifically a bit on manners with an example of biting your tongue in a difficult situation!) And of course in each situation the writer felt deeply ashamed and vowed to improve her lot immediately. It got a little too Pygmalion for me.
All in all, a decent read, but for the price I think you can get better elsewhere. For tips on how to live like a French woman I recommend "Two Lipsticks and a Lover" or anything by Mirelle Guliano. As for practicing the art of living, I find that "Miss Minimalist" gives much simpler, easier advice on how to enjoy and appreciate life without all the frou frou.