on 18 July 2004
Brilliant! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Being an English woman and having on two occasions uprooted to France for a year, I get so tired of reading all those rose tinted novels about moving to France which talk whimsically about how wonderful it is, how friendly all the locals are, how they all laugh good naturedly at your attempts to speak French, how all misunderstandings are sorted out over a glass of red wine. All these books paint a false picture of living in France but here is one which tells it like it is, it is hard, it can reduce you to tears, you can feel like screaming at the 'friendly locals'. I am a francophile but I'm the first to admit, the country and its people can be infuriating and unfriendly towards foreigners. Sarah Turnbull tells her story with honesty and humour, I recognised so much of what she wrote. Anybody who loves France or who has expereinced living there will enjoy this book.
on 10 November 2004
"Almost French" is the story of a woman who goes to France to visit a French lawyer she has only met a couple times before and barely knows. Of course, she gets caught up in the romance of the city and stays on to live there. Despite this description this is not some drippy love story but rather a wonderfully observant series of accounts told from a journalists point of view. For those who have visited Paris, and those yet to make the trip, this book will amaze and entertain you. Turnbull comes to the realization that despite the fact that she will never fit in perfectly in Paris, her life is in and of itself perfect.
I especially enjoyed the day to day accounts of regular everyday life - dinner parties, meeting friends, finding employment, traveling, cooking, shopping, etc. The accounts of her dog are very amusing. I hope to see a follow up book from this author!
From the author of The Difference Now.
An young Aussie journalist charges into France, determined to win it over. France resists.
Some of the best non-fiction of any kind is written by journalists. Turnbull's open and straightforward style works well here. Her narrative reads like a series of letters from a good friend, but the writing is too good for it to have been dashed off.
I loved reading about her dinner parties (disaster), getting along with her future in-laws (disaster), and learning to reconcile Australian casualness with Parisian attention to appearance (less of a disaster once her boyfriend talked her into tossing the sweat pants).
I was especially taken with how Turnbull managed to re-started her career in a country whose language she had flunked in college. What determination!
on 19 April 2006
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...
on 12 September 2012
This account of adjusting to a new life in Paris by a resourceful young woman who is not easily daunted, is pleasingly vivid and entertaining. She falls in love with Frederic who presents here as a sort of benign presence in the background, while Sarah encounters the paradoxes of the French. She persuades him to move to Paris from the leafy suburbs in order to be in the hubub of the city, but eventually begins to yearn for unmanicured lawns and more open spaces. She resists running back to Sydney, and compromises by having a hole made in their apartment wall, creating a window onto the rooftops of Paris.
Initially, her friendly Aussie demeanour is not always well received, but after some painful beginnings she and the natives acclimatise better. Sarah's cooking skills and tastes improve, and as a freelance journalist she gets to interview some key cultural figures. Her descriptions of daily Parisian life are witty and informative. This is a light, bright read.
on 4 April 2005
"Almost French" is a remarkable story of a woman who goes to France to visit an acquaintance, a French lawyer. It is the romantic nature of the city of Paris that rapped her. She came to enjoy the day to day regular life of , strolls in the city, dinner parties, meeting friends, enjoying the flow of the city, finding employment, meeting new people, traveling, learning more about the French, cooking, the night life, shopping and many other activities. This is one of the books that do not paint a false picture of living in France, and tells it the way it truly is. Living in a foreign country and culture is hard. Before you get used to it, there are times when you almost get reduced to tears, when you feel lost, when you feel like venting your listlessness at the 'friendly locals. This book is a fascinating series of accounts told from a journalist's point of view. For anyone harboring romantic visions of becoming an expatriate, more so in a country like France or a city like Paris, I recommend this book. Even for those who have already visited Paris, and those yet to visit, this is a book to read.
This memoir of Sarah Turnbull's move to Paris from Australia is a fun to read book. I was amused by her recount of her dog. I am looking forward to more books by this author.
Also recommended: THE USURPER AND OTHER STORIES, LIVING AND WORKING IN PARIS, SIXTY MILLION FRENCHMEN CAN'T BE WRONG, DISCIPLES OF FORTUNE
on 26 July 2015
I loved this book. It could only have been written by an Australian. She describes everything with an openness and sense of fairness derived from her country of birth. I do not think an English writer could have written in this non-biased way and yet we English can learn so much from her experiences. She is a combination of naivety and straight talking and determination that allows her to conquer all her problems and thoroughly enjoy the experience. Her intelligence shines through and it is easy to see why I think her French boyfriend must have been fascinated by her. Very well written and a joy to read.
on 30 March 2016
Suffering from acute what-the-hell-to-DO? for a very long time now, I have often wondered about the possibility of living in Paris. I guess I have always liked the city, while my last visit (with a girlfriend) resulted in a particularly beautiful and erotic experience on a balcony above the tree line, around the corner from the Gare du Nord. All that loud French traffic was a helpful background to our romantic activities. Seemingly, gone are the days of having girlfriends to undress and lead by the hand (my Sarah was a wiling recipient of my ardour). Nevertheless I bought the book to see what this Sarah had to say about her experiences of settling in the city and have found it interesting, insightful and occasionally amusing. Of course she seems to be une petite force of nature, Sarah Turnbull does, and throughout the book I was aware of that. Nevertheless, a point of view of colour and worth, in my view. In the end I guess I simply envied her her ability to learn French and work as a journalist in a foreign clime, as well as her loving relationship with a good guy. Or perhaps I should, more, be inspired.
on 20 August 2014
This book is amazing! I could not put it down. Was sad when the book finished as I wanted it to continue.
The style of writing is enticing and has made me want to go back to Paris.
The writer helps you understand Parisians with humour and truth.
I highly recommend this.
on 22 February 2014
An intelligent, in-depth look at the real Paris and its inhabitants. The authoress has even taken the trouble to research the history and backgrounds of the various wards (arrondissements). Although written in the first person there is none of the usual self-centredness found in the majority of similar books, and none of the hysteria about producing three-course meals each day - a quite normal occurence for many in Europe. Even the women appear normal: well-dressed and possibly chic yes, but not the artificial models usually forced on the reader. There is a sense of humour throughout which makes reading enjoyable and Mme Turnbull has that endearing quality of being able to laugh at herself.