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The Secret Life of France Audio CD – 1 Jun 2011

4.1 out of 5 stars 135 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks; Unabridged Audiobook edition (1 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140747698X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1407476988
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (135 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,656,861 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Everything you wanted to know about France but were too afraid to ask... At eighteen Lucy Wadham abandoned England and fell into the arms of a Frenchman. Twenty-five years later, having married, had children, and divorced in France, Lucy is perfectly placed to explore the differences between our two countries. Here she examines every aspect of French life - from sex and adultery to money, happiness, race and politics - in this funny and engrossing account of our most intriguing neighbour.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an account of living in France (chiefly Paris) by someone initially taken there by love. Warning - one or two spoilers.
It moves from some fairly personal passages to other, more sweeping, debates about the nature of France and the French. As others have mentioned there are hundreds, probably thousands, of books written by British people who have moved to France. Many are frankly rather tedious; page after page of how wonderful it all is, and how funny the French are. This book is a bit different.
The author does at least try to understand her new neighbours and acquaintances; helped by the fact that she married a Frenchman, which at least meant she had to integrate to some degree. Although the marriage did not last, she remained in France, and tries to explain why.
The differences between French and British culture are examined, and although you may not always agree with the conclusions, they normally make you think.
Overall, an interesting read; it can only be a personal account, but does not pretend to be anything else.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved it. Just moved to France and the author has shown me the subtleties of French life!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book through the 12 Days of Kindle, and am very glad that I did! It is highly amusing, yet informative at the same time. I have been living in France for 4 months now, and can relate to a great deal of the book, despite me not living in Paris - a comment I have noticed in other reviews is that she focuses on Parisian life too much. I didn't agree with this, partly because how could three author focus on country life if she hadn't lived it? And also partly because I live in the south of France and found it to be a very accurate representation of the French people that I have met, so whilst it may read to some as being a study of Paris, it is also a study of France.

One small note for any kindle reader who checks the percentage finished at the bottom, I was at about 60% and was completely confused as to how there was another 40% to go, there wasn't! The last 25% is the sources and index. I'm not critisising this, just stating the fact, as it did confuse me a little!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Like the last reviewer, I found this through the kindle Christmas special offers where it was about 80% cheaper than the current kindle price, so a real bargain.

This differs a lot from the usual "Brit quit Blighty to move to a warmer, sunnier country in search of a better life" that are, especially on kindle, ten a penny. For a start the author is a professional writer not somebody out to make a few quid by writing something of the quality that would appear in a blog or in e mails back to family and friends.

The author really gets stuck into the fabric of France, and explains in great detail how the country works, how the people think, and every other aspect of French life.

This is mixed with her own experience of dealing with the French as a foreigner - even though she's lived in France since the 80's and speaks perfect French. There's a great story about her applying for a French national ID card debating with a civil servant that she wasn't an illegal citizen. Since the early 90's a Brit cannot be an illegal citizen in the EU.

+1 on what the other reviewer said re buying this on kindle - the last 25% of the book or so is notes and the index, so the book isn't as "thick" as it appears on your kindle.

A very entertaining and a highly recommended book.
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By EllyBlue TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Aug. 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Like many others I'm sure, I have a secret fantasy about moving to France based on my many holidays to that country over the years. Having read this book though, I'm not so sure that this is a very good idea! Starting with her courtship and marriage to a Frenchman in the 1980s, through to the present, divorced, but still living in France, Lucy Wadham explains some of the differences between our "Anglo-Saxon Culture" and the French way of looking at the world. The areas are wide-ranging, from sexual manners, the importance of appearance, attitudes to breast-feeding, the French school system, French healthcare, social system, politics, foreign policy, and more.
It's a more serious book than I was perhaps expecting, certainly with some humour, but also with a lot detailed discussion of history, politics and France's relationship with her ethnic minorities, and her response to terrorism. Certainly, it will give you some insight into the correct tone to adopt towards your boulanger, but it also deals with other more weighty issues than this.
If I have a criticism it is perhaps that this book doesn't quite catch the diversity of France, based very much on what Wadham experienced in her own circle. For example, she does touch on French rural life, but a more in-depth analysis of the differences between the city-dwellers and the proudly titled French "peasants" is beyond the scope of this book, perhaps understandably, but it is a shame nonetheless.
Definitely worth reading if you love France but find the French rather enigmatic as some light will be shed on the mysterious ways of our Gallic neighbour!
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By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 July 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I shall look at France and the French people with fresh eyes after reading this book. I've always thought it is very difficult to analyse a country's culture when you were brought up in it. You cannot get enough distance from it though in this case the author could see France as an outsider and has spent long enough there to be capable of objectivity about English culture. In this book Lucy Wadham who has lived in France for 25 years and been married to a Frenchman for part of that time, attempts to demonstrate the difference between life in England and life in France.

I was intrigued to discover that the media has in general only a limited influence and that the French are not that interested in work for its own sake seeing it as a means to an end. There are some fascinating snippets in this book and if you approach it with an open mind you will find it worth reading.

I found the author's style approachable and interesting though she makes no attempt to simplify her subject matter - which I found refreshing. She quotes many documentary sources to back up what she says, so while this is a personal viewpoint the conclusions she draws are based on verifiable facts. Worth reading I thought.
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