4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 15 January 2013
This is the first, and the best, of the books which discusses French women's style.
The book was a present when it was first published and I have read it at least once a year since. It is a combination of the generic tips (eg the importance of sparkling underwear), the very practical (eg naming award winning anti-cellulite lotions) with the personal anecdotes of the author and the individuals that she spoke to in the name of "research". It is neatly divided into topics that can be read independently of each other.
And I will keep on reading when I need a bit of inspiration or cheering up!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2013
The pre-purchase book-extract is tantalising:the 14-year old author arrives in Paris only to be redirected by the hotel concierge to the digs of her father's latest squeeze. He's elsewhere, pursuing "a bottom". At the Parisian girlfriend's tiny appartement the author gets her first rose-tinted glimpse into what it takes to be really Parisian and indeed really French: pots and pots of unguents, a Zen-like living space and racily, "...two lipsticks and a lover".
There are musings a plenty: about child-rearing in France -- children eat well, eat everything and are well mannered to boot but they do get coddled. Interestingly the State plays a great part in helping women back to work (tax free child care -- now there's something for the incumbent UK government to seriously consider). Underwear - must be matching and expensive; lovers - infidelity and discretion are key and if it makes you happy, there you go; food - guard against junk products and eat only when hungry. Moreover the possession of a great intellect in a woman is not the preserve of the dull or dowdy. Being well read is seen to add to one's allure.
Whilst some of the chapters may test your patience for cliches about French women (they smoke a lot, eat high fat cheese, miraculously remain stick thin) many parts may simply reinforce what you had long suspected: that some French women take great care of themselves from the inside out, possess large quantities of self-confidence and self-belief, are well read and don't laugh in the raucous way of their British sisters.
In essence, this is an easy read for the St Pancras Eurostar. You'll have completed the book by the time you hit Gare du Nord.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2006
As a foreigner living in France, I was enthralled by "Two Lipsticks and a Lover". Particularly in the first half of the book, the author has managed to capture so many enigmas of French culture in a simple sentence, and with such humour. It is great to see that so many things that I had thought were just my experience cited here as "Fact". If some of it seems exaggerated, I can tell you that it is all so true!!
I highly recommend this book. In fact, I would say it is a must for non-French women living in or wanting to understand more about France.
I especially liked the fact that many of the quotes were from current females in French politics.
As I am neither English nor French, I was also able to identify with the anecdotes of what French people might think of the English.
In addition, this book made me conscious that, like the author, my years in France have made me change the way I see things: a balanced meal, the necessity of creams and treatments, ...
I found that the end of the book was less focussed but perhaps it was because it held subjects less close to my heart. Also, there is a side the French culture that is more easily explained in light of the work culture, long lunch, subsidized meals, etc. The author would only experience this having lived it. French culture is rich and so there are more enigmas out there yet for her to solve! This book is a great start.
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2005
I watched Helena on Richard & Judy and read the book because they said it was smart and very funny. It really is very entertaining how the book uncovers the secrets of French women. Their obsession with style and looking good is just something else. I was really pleasantly surprised about how practical the book is. It tells that French women don't do excercise but love to go shopping on foot (because you are worth it, could be a French expression!) so that they can avoid the gym. Or that they always have a 'casse' (something like a biscuit) in their handbag so that if they feel hungry they don't eat fatty or sweet snacks between meals. Very warmly recommended.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 2 July 2008
No more the "5 for £1.00" from M&S and no more "just a night cream will do" approach. After reading this book Judith (my wife) has announced she "needs (but needs, not wants!) to get some new lingerie and to upgrade her cosmetics range.
Our Parisian friends confirm what Helena Frith Powell writes. So, it will cause you to spend more (but so much more wisely Judith says).
It's a book that irritates as much as it is enjoyable - at times, boring, even. And, it's clearly an Englishwoman's view of the way Parisians (and other French big-city women) go about their lives. Hence the 3*. Still a good read, though (which is why I'm buying for our two daughters - sorry hubbies!)
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2005
Contrary to what I read in the Daily Mail last week, which seemed to have picked out all the negatives when it was serialised, this book is a funny and affectionate look at French women. The author has gone out and made friends with an enormous number of classy chicks, including Ines de la Fressange, who was my childhood hero. Ines and other women have opened up the sort of secrets that are only passed from mother to daughter - and then in French! She likes them, but she's not in awe of them. She also seems to have picked up a few tips from a mystery french man that she meets on the train..
All in all, an entertaining and riveting read, although I'm not going to tell you if it ends in a brief encounter!
on 9 June 2014
Maybe the haute bourgeois, whom no doubt, have both the time and the money to spend on being perfectly groomed, are stereotypical of those described in this book. However, having visited France, Paris in particular, many times during the last couple of years (and being the observant woman I am) I have noticed the usual mix of people one finds in most cities; the only difference being that the percentage of well groomed women appears to be little higher in France.
That said, there are useful tips on the wisdom of buying wisely, when it comes to clothes, and also self-grooming that I found helpful. However, quite a few of the treatments, suggested, would probably be out side the reach of most women who are less affluent than the author, despite her protestations to the contrary (I assume that she met B, as she calls him, whilst travelling first class). So be prepared to modify them to suit your budget.
The part of this book that I found the most amusing is when Madame Frith Powell mentions that all her efforts to become better groomed etc. culminated in her being mistaken for a Parisian and asked for directions by a courier.
It amused me because although I do take pride in my appearance, I would never claim to be as well groomed as the women the author describes in her book (goodness knows I am often seen sans lipstick and with less than a perfect manicure), but even I have been stopped twice whilst in Paris and asked for directions, and all without having read a single line of Two Lipsticks and a Lover. However, I am the first to concede, this could owe more to the possibility that it is less likely that lone women are mistaken for tourists, or visitors, than any attempt that I may make to try and pass myself off as a local.
My own mother, who is English to the core, never left the house without applying a dash of lipstick; although I am certain she would have agreed that doing so to take out the rubbish is rather extreme and perhaps suggests a woman with self-confidence problems. It is one thing to take pride in one’s appearance but doing so to the exclusion of all else may suggest something of an imbalance in one’s life.
Perhaps, then, it is better to view the advice, in this book, as something we can, if we so wish, aspire to whilst remembering not to beat ourselves up if we fall a little short due to the constraints that life has bequeathed us.
on 25 May 2015
The title and the quirky front cover illustration first attracted me to the book and I was intrigued as to what the pages may hold. I think it was the fact that it was the author’s true account which made me put my hand in my pocket and take it home.
‘If you cut a French woman in half, you will see the words ‘liberte’, e’galite’, fraternite’’written throughout like a stick of rock.’ – page 261
I guess I didn’t really know what to expect from the book, but I loved the honesty and the humour although I would have preferred it to have taken more of a collection of short stories route rather than the journalistic approach that it had, but seeing as the author is a travel and lifestyle journalist I shouldn’t have really been surprised. I enjoyed learning about the history of the country and especially loved the section on Colette:
‘Just the name conjures up images of debauchery and naughtiness. She is undoubtedly one of the most formidable of French women, one outstandingly talented and raucous character.’ – page 224
I am glad that I picked up this interesting and insightful read and it certainly was enlightening to discover a glimpse into the lives of the Parisian ladies, but whereas the ex-pat is now happier than ever to be a reinvented French women, I am still a proud Brit, even with the negative comparisons in the book.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 13 October 2005
What is it about French women? Why are they so much more exciting than say, Albanian women? In this witty yet perceptive guide to the species, that I bought on the strength of its serialisation in the Daily Mail, the author goes undercover to discover whether the myth is true. How do they stay so thin, so elegant? Are they really programmed to seduce? Should you trust one with your boyfriend for the weekend? As well as her own experiences of trying to fit in, get groomed, and flirt with men on trains, she meets up with a number of well-known French women such as supermodel Ines de la Fressange to find out what makes them so special and the secret of their success. Her discoveries make interesting and amusing reading. I really liked this book, a sort of non-fiction Bridget Jones for grown-ups. She doesn't fall for all the usual cliches, but there are some useful tips and insights in how to look good without trying. Just don't show the book to your French friends - it might shock them!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2007
This is not a serious book, and was never meant to be - it's fun, light hearted, intriguing and educational. Learn about French culture and French women and how they always manage to look amazing, yet seem to live on red wine and cheese! You'll never wear 'thousand wash grey' underwear again, you'll probably own more lotions and potions than Boots The Chemist, and you'll feel like shopping for a whole new sophisticated wardrobe - so what's new! After all that ladies it's enlightening, and easy to read, so for French fun and frolics grab a glass of Chablis and enjoy! I have recommended this to everyone and have bought two girlfriends a copy for Christmas. It is what it is, and I don't think will ever win the Nobel Prize but I loved it!