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Bonnes Vacances: A Crazy Family Adventure in the French Territories Paperback – 6 Jun 2011
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Featured in(The Guardian)
'Filled with humorous anecdotes about travelling with a family and thoughtful insight… offers a refreshing take on the classic travelogue.'(France magazine)
'The maddest slice of France. Had me in stitches yet moving and touching too - how can one family have caused so much trouble?'(Jeremy Vine)
'Anyone who’s taken their children on holiday (or been a child on holiday) will find it funnier than Rosie did at the time. Hilaire!'(French Entrée)
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Rosie and her brave and adventurous family decide to boldly go where few have gone before and spend three months visiting the French overseas departments that are spread out over the five continents of the world. Many of them don’t get huge numbers of tourist visitors, so arriving with a young family in tow and trying to film a low budget documentary along the way proved to be quite a challenge, especially for their four children. It was a real adventure for the whole family and each chapter started with a diary excerpt from one of her daughters. I thought this was a lovely touch, as it was nice to read their thoughts as well as Rosie’s. Whilst she gushes with the romantic ideas of turning up at their next gîte or auberge, the reality often means employing the British stiff upper lip and grinning and bearing the sweat encrusted pillows, bare light bulbs and cockroaches. I’m not sure I could have stayed in some of the places they stayed. One memorable evening saw their daughter disturbing a burglar while they were dining at the home of the chief of police in Guiana where iguana was being served in their honour and they came very close to losing all their valuables. It was certainly a trip packed full of experiences.
I learned a lot about the history, geography and culture of the French Dom-toms in this entertaining read, but I’m not sure it has made me want to jet off to embrace the outré-mer life. I don’t think it is the France for me, I’m more an Ardeche gorges and Bordeaux city type of girl.
What can I say?
I suppose I can sum it up by saying that I abandoned it at 63% of the way through. Waste of money, but there you go.
I am surprised to learn that the author is a professional journalist. One would imagine that such a person would be better equipped to write a factual book that was accurate, if nothing else. This is inaccurate as well as boring.
In addition to her spoilt brats over whom she has apparently no control, the annoying features include numerous factual inaccuracies and constant, but constant, inaccurate French. The oft-repeated description of the French flag being Bleu, blanche et rouge is typical. Don't publishers have editors to sort out this type of incompetence in their authors?
On the strength of an article in the Daily Telegraph, I pre-ordered her new book. This book I bought as dear old Amazon suggested it to me when I placed that order. Gee, thanks.
I have now cancelled my pre-order. Wish I hadn't ordered this one.
My favourite moments were the iguana stew meal (couldn't stop laughing), swimming with sharks and meeting a former Hell's Angel in the middle of the Guyana jungle.
I learnt an awful lot too. But at no point did the book read like a lesson in History or Politics. It was never heavy going. Always light and witty. Yet still informative and educational. I think it takes a skillful writer to achieve that balance.
I did find myself wondering whether it's selfish dragging reluctant young children round the world on this sort of trip. But actually I think it probably does them a lot of good. It opens their eyes to other cultures and ways of life and it also makes them appreciate some of the things they take for granted at home.
It's a shame that the TV series isn't available on DVD, but the book is an entertaining read on its own and even as somebody who has less than a passing interest in French culture, I highly recommend it.
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