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Home » Books » Travel » Country Guides » Europe » France

Almost French

By Sarah Turnbull

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Format: Paperback, 320 pages
Published In: Australia, 05 April 2002
'This isn't like me. I'm not the sort of girl who crosses continents to meet up with a man she hardly knows. Paris hadn't even been part of my travel plan a' After backpacking her way around Europe journalist Sarah Turnbull is ready to embark on one last adventure before heading home to Sydney. A chance meeting with a charming Frenchman in Bucharest changes her travel plans forever. Acting on impulse, she agrees to visit Fr d ric in Paris for a week. Put a very French Frenchman together with a strong-willed Australian girl and the result is some spectacular - and often hilarious - cultural clashes. Language is a minefield of misunderstanding and the simple act of buying a baguette is fraught with social danger. But as she navigates the highs and lows of this strange new world, from the sophisticated caf s and haute couture fashion houses to the picture postcard French countryside, little by little Sarah falls under its spell: passionate, mysterious, infuriating, and charged with that French specialty - s duction. And it becomes her home. ALMOST FRENCH is the story of an adventurous heart, a maddening city - and love.

About the Author

Sarah Turnbull is a freelance writer. Formerly a television journalist with SBS, she began working in print media after moving to France from Sydney ten years ago. Since then she has been writing regularly for magazines ranging from THE AUSTRALIAN MAGAZINE to AUSTRALIAN GOURMET TRAVELLER and she is a contributing editor to MARIE CLAIRE. In the 1998 MPA awards Sarah was named Feature Writer of the Year for three investigative stories published in MARIE CLAIRE. As a student at the Australian National University, she studied politics, Fine Art and French. Sarah dropped French after failing the subject in her first year.

Reviews

In an unpretentious manner, the strong yet empathetic Turnbull relates the transition from her Australian home to a new life with her French fiance, adding a good twist of dry, self-deprecating humor. A freelance journalist, Turnbull has a knack for describing the salient and entertaining episodes succinctly yet vividly, which prevents the story from descending into monotony. From meeting her husband's extended family to attending haute couture fashion shows, Turnbull candidly assesses her new environment. She also takes the stereotypes of French culture, such as the obsession with aesthetics, acknowledges their basis in reality, and then delves deeper to find an explanation for each. Turnbull's love for her husband tempers the frustration and humiliation she experiences while mastering not only the language but also the idiosyncratic rules and customs of the French. This enjoyable and insightful book is suitable for public library collections.-Rebecca Bollen, North Bergen, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

A bestseller in Turnbull's native Australia, this cute firsthand look at the hardships of settling into a city infamously chilly to outsiders gives a glimpse of the true nature of Parisians and daily life in their gorgeous city. Though Turnbull tells readers less about love than new life, it was in falling for a Frenchman that the journalist found herself moving to Paris, for a few months that stretched into years. The cultural relationship is challenging enough, leaving aside the more intimate personal story (though readers do learn enough about Turnbull's now husband to understand her decision to stay), and she writes of finding work, making friends, surviving dinner parties and adapting to the rhythms and pace of life with a Parisian boyfriend with humor and a developing sense of wisdom. Of the struggle to adapt to her new home in the mid-1990s, the author writes, "I've discovered a million details that matter to me-details that define me as non-French" no matter how much she tries to assimilate, while over time she grows to appreciate some perplexing aspects of French culture, as "[e]veryday incidences elevate into moments of clarity simply because they would never, ever happen in your old home," from developing her confrontational side enough to defend herself (in French) from rude remarks to receiving advice from "a terribly chic blonde who advises me to use eye-makeup remover on Maddie's [Turnbull's dog's] leaky eyes." This is an engaging, endearing view of the people and places of France. Agent, Liv Blumer. (Aug. 18) Forecast: If books like A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun are any measure, there's a ready market for Turnbull's contribution to the European expat memoir genre. She's a contributing editor at Marie Claire, which could help the book get coverage in that and other women's magazines. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-This account of a 20-plus Australian woman's adventures as she tried to adjust to Parisian ways is both insightful and funny. Having taken a year off from her job with a TV network, Turnbull moved to Paris to be with her new lover, Frederic. She found that the French weren't interested in making new friends; were unwilling to discuss their jobs, hobbies, or much of anything except the food they were eating, planning to eat, or had eaten; and they wished to socialize in mixed groups-no girls' night out for them. But Frederic, with patience and aplomb, helped her overcome these obstacles, depicted in a series of vignettes that sketch many of the fascinations and foibles of becoming "almost French." She detested visiting Frederic's family in northern France, with its rainy, cold beaches, but finally warmed to his home, and was accepted by them. The couple's marriage was almost an anticlimax after a hilarious birthday celebration for 80 at the old home. This clash of cultures is, ultimately, a love story.-Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

..".a love song to Paris and France, yes, but a love song in a minor key Readers looking for a cool dose of reality...will be rewarded many times over...."

EAN: 9781863252850
ISBN: 1863252851
Publisher: Bantam
Dimensions: 13.4 x 21.1 x 2.6 centimetres (0.24 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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Sarah-Jayne on
 
The tale of an SBS reporter who meets a Frenchman on her travels and decides on a whim to go and visit him in his homeland. She falls in love with him and ends up making France her new home. Unfortunately, the author discovers that love is not enough to ensure her stay there is comfortable as she deals with the many trials and tribulations of the clashing of cultures. Travels memoirs are aplenty at the moment and this novel can be tedious if you have read a few.

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