Customer Review

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learn how to get on in Paris..., 19 April 2006
This review is from: Almost French: A New Life in Paris (Paperback)
On her backpacking travels around Europe, 20 something Australian, Sarah Turnbull, meets Frenchman, Frederic, who invites her to Paris for a week. A week turns into eight years as she finds herself married to Frederic and throwing out her beloved tracksuit bottoms in a bid to look more sophisticated in one of the most fashion conscious capitals of the world!

Relocating to another country proves to be quite a trial for Sarah Turnbull as she comes across inevitable differences in culture and a different way of life which are at first testing, but which she comes to embrace.

This non-fiction novel offers an insightful and often witty account from an expat's point of view. We follow her on her journey as she commits faux pas ranging from being too gregarious at swank parties and not pampering her pooch to the Parisian standard to wearing her "pantaloons de jogging" on her early morning run to the bakery (wrong, wrong, wrong!) and laughing too loudly! Things that she takes for granted in Sydney are not quite so acceptable in Paris, but she comes to learn, understand and accept how things work.

Over the years, she gets work as a freelance journalist, learns how to conduct herself at Parisian dinner parties and how to evade strict planning permission laws. She also gets used to the heavy bureaucracy and waiting her turn in the cheese shop. Eventually, Sarah becomes accustomed to the French way of life and overcomes her difficulties to become almost French.

This book would appeal to anyone who has an interest in France, and in particular, Paris. It is educational, without being patronising or disrespectful towards the French. Each chapter is informative, and I for one learnt a number of things that I wasn't aware of before, such as why in many cases it takes time to befriend the Parisians and how attached the French are to the region they grew up in. Sarah Turnbull presents a fair, and warm story, dispelling some French stereotypes, and proving others.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book, particularly the sections on fashion (namely haute couture), Parisian women, food and the general descriptions of Paris and it's many "arrondissements", or neighbourhoods. There is a lot of attention to detail, with every place, person and object described to paint a vivid picture in the mind of the reader.

"Almost French, a New Life in Paris" is an easy read, and if you plan to visit France, or Paris for a prolonged period of time, then definitely give this book a read, after all, you never know, a week's stay might just turn into eight years...
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