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on 18 February 2013
I really enjoyed this book but almost didn't buy it as I got the impression from the title and blurb that it was some sort of clichéd romance. On the spur of the moment I decided to buy it anyway and downloaded it onto my Kindle. It's actually much more compelling than some fluffy love story. It's an autobiographical account of the American author's decision to move to Paris, the quirks of the French and life in Paris and her adjustment to living there. Yes, part of this is meeting and marrying a Frenchman but that isn't the main focus of the book. There is much more about how Parisians live, which is still very different to British or American ways, often told through the perspective of the amazing food available in Paris (with accompanying recipes), and what it is like to move there as a foreigner. I am probably biased as my husband's job has just moved to Paris and I am now experiencing at first hand a lot of what the author discovered. I too am a bit of a foodie, and I knew that I was on the same wavelength as the author when she describes how she walks past several bakers in search the best croissant. Me too - but then In Paris there are bakers on every street corner. The book is intelligently written, is almost philosophical in parts such as considering the author's switch from go-getting American career girl to contented wife, and spot on in from my early experience about the very different French approach to work and their guiding life philosophy. In summary, an excellent book about life in Paris and French attitudes but not one to buy if you are after a chick lit romance.
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on 27 March 2017
Funny, moving and extra bonus of recipes after each chapter
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 23 April 2015
This is the account of an American woman who moves to Paris and marries her French boyfriend (who's not at all a stereotype - he's a tapdancing engineer with the unlikely name of Gwendal). It's about how she adapts to living in Paris and how she falls in love with the city and the cuisine. She ends every chapter with some of her favourite recipes, so it's part memoir, part travelogue, part recipe book.

Unfortunately Elizabeth just isn't as interesting as she thinks she is. There's too much about her - I love history! I grew up surrounded by women! I like eating! - and not enough objectively about the experience of moving to a new country. Parts of the book also felt like they had been taken verbatim from emails to her mother (eg "tonight when I came out of the Louvre I noticed them cleaning the windows").

Some of the most interesting parts for me were the way that she starts to find fault in so many aspects of the American culture. She pokes fun at American tourists and sneers at her mother for assuming that things will operate in Europe as they do in the US. Over my life I've lived in seven different countries, and it got me thinking about the way that I have adapted and assimilated. I was also interested in her views on the differences between American vs French attitudes, how what is quite acceptable in the US is seen as pushy in France and how Americans show their power by helping whereas the French show their power by blocking progress.

The integration of the recipes (more than 60) feels very natural given Elizabeth's obsession with food. (She's the kind of writer who describes walls as being the colour of butter or a sweater as being the colour of warm milk.) While I haven't tried any, for the most part they sound tasty and easy to follow. They are also listed in the index.

While I found the book okay, I got bored towards the end, because ultimately it doesn't go anywhere. It felt like Bard wrote it because she had nothing better to do with her time. There are better books that cover similar territory. Almost French: A New Life in Paris is one which I recommend, or if the foodie aspect is what appeals, try The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry.
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on 24 July 2014
This is a beautifully seductive story of running away to Paris and indulging - complete with recipes! I was hooked from the first chapter and cannot wait to try out the dishes included. It is not a taxing read, but it is heart warming and, in my opinion, much less contrived than books such as Eat, Pray, Love.
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on 9 August 2011
I was bought this book as a present, as I have a bit of an obsession with all things Paris. I loved the beautiful cover and the premise, but wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the book because I can't cook to save my life - however I was instantly proven wrong as Elizabeth Bard explains her recipes so eloquently and simply that I actually managed to cook a very successful 'Pasta A La Gwendal', much to the delight of my family, and may just have been transformed into a culinary goddess.

The story itself is as wonderful as the title suggests - funny, romantic, and actually pretty uplifting, and for once, unlike other French travelogues that I've read, I really liked the characters. Let's just say it's made me fall even more in love with Paris than I already was!
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on 22 March 2013
I mostly enjoyed this book - as a holiday read it was fine, but it's pretty gentle, it sort of ambles along without too much happening. I got bored in the middle and thought it was too slow but I persevered because there were some quite enjoyable elements: the growth of the character as she spends longer in France, occasional insights into the relationship with her deceased father - not cloying at all - and the presentation of the recipes and insights into French life.
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on 31 August 2011
I wasn't expecting much from this book when it was first passed on to me, but the first chapter got me completely hooked. Bard's keen observance of the French and their quirks were funny, charming, and spot-on. Her struggles to integrate as an expat are heartfelt and she finds solace in the universal language of great food. The recipes at the end of each chapter are perfect - delicious and simple.
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on 31 December 2014
This memoir is a delicious look at life in Paris, seen through the eyes of Elizabeth, an American, who falls for Paris as well as a Frenchman.

Elizabeth sets a lovely scene as she takes us through the special times spent around the dining table learning the French way, from simple daily lunches to large family get togethers. She shares her daily visits to her local market and if you have seen the film Notting Hill (and if you haven't you should) you may remember when the lady walks down the market and the seasons change around her. I love that film and I could visualise Elizabeth doing the same in her little corner of Paris.

As her life in Paris develops, she adds her own family food to her French dining table and includes her French family in her Jewish celebrations, often giving them a French twist. This book includes some of her favourite recipes and I have marked out some that I will be giving a go, although none of them seem too complicated. Although food is important, this book is also about language, love and making a life for yourself in a new country.

At the end of the book Elizabeth offers a reading list and I will certainly be looking up some of her suggestions as if there is one thing I love it is reading!
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on 10 June 2014
I love this book, all the reviews say it is charming, & so it is! The story of an American journalist who moves to Paris to be with her tap dancing French boyfriend, it is funny, sweet & very entertaining. It introduces us to the ups & downs of living in France, & has lovely, mouth watering recipes. I'm, sadly, not good in the kitchen, but these recipes made me want to rush out, buy fresh ingredients & cook!
(Hasn't happened yet, but I can dream!)
At the end of the book, Elizabeth reveals that they are now living in Provence, so I hope we get a follow up book about life in the South of France too.
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on 4 March 2015
As a person who loves reading expat blogs, I really enjoed reading this delicious book. It was a sweet story lined with 2-3 recipes at the end of every chapter. Since I'm a vegetarian, most of her recipes are useless for me but I loved the way she's portrayed the Parisian life.

Personally I think she's very lucky to have had this life and I'm very envious of her address. You can relate it very well, if you've married into a different culture and you find quite a few things endearing & frustrating at the same time. All in all, I quite happy for a relaxing tour through the cafes and markets.
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