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Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris [Kindle Edition]

Sarah Turnbull
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (140 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $17.00
Kindle Price: $10.27
You Save: $6.73 (40%)
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC

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Book Description

The charming true story of a spirited young woman who finds adventure--and the love of her life--in Paris.
"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 delightful, fresh twist on the travel memoir, Almost French takes us on a tour that is fraught with culture clashes but rife with deadpan humor. Sarah Turnbull's stint in Paris was only supposed to last a week. Chance had brought Sarah and Frédéric together in Bucharest, and on impulse she decided to take him up on his offer to visit him in the world's most romantic city. Sacrificing Vegemite for vichyssoise, the feisty Sydney journalist does her best to fit in, although her conversation, her laugh, and even her wardrobe advertise her foreigner status.
But as she navigates the highs and lows of this strange new world, from life in a bustling quatier and surviving Parisian dinner parties to covering the haute couture fashion shows and discovering the hard way the paradoxes of France today, little by little Sarah falls under its spell: maddening, mysterious, and charged with that French specialty-séduction.

An entertaining tale of being a fish out of water, Almost French is an enthralling read as Sarah Turnbull leads us on a magical tour of this seductive place-and culture-that has captured her heart

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 494 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gotham Books; Reprint edition (August 3, 2004)
  • Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002ENBM3U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,899 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
112 of 122 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, funny and at times also educational. March 16, 2004
I am part of a newly started book club. The number of girls attending our dinners vary between 3 and 12, all Australian but me. We had problems choosing a new book last time, but in the end, we settled for "Almost French" by Sarah Turnbull as our third book to read. All member of our book club are foreigners, living in England, so we figured we could and would sympathize with another "expat".
Sarah met Frederic while on a (very late) gap-year in Europe. They had a good time and agreed to meet up in France later. In short, they meet up, fall in love, and Sarah never leaves Paris.
Moving to another country is a massive challenge. You are bound to do all the "Top 10" big no-no's probably within the first 2 weeks. Sarah's portrait of Parisians is hilariously funny, from the snobby shopkeepers, old ladies with their well groomed dogs, uptight cocktail parties where no one really mingles, and unfriendly dinners with Frederic's friends to mention a few.
However, when we discussed this book, we all commented that it was not very balanced - 90% Sarah and 10% the rest. With that ratio, we get to know Sarah quite well. Honestly, she tends to whine quite a bit. We go through the motions with her - lonely, bored and feeling useless and not welcome (I got tired of the author asking over and over and over again "why don't they like me?"). However, her frustration for not being able to speak the language I can sympathize with. I have been in the same situation myself. I studied Spanish in Latin America. Trust me, when you only can speak in present tense with a very limited vocabulary, you sound like an idiot and the conversation dies quickly... But the most pathetic incident is when she realizes that she doesn't actually live in Paris but outside the city limit (defined by the postcode).
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will whoever borrowed it last give it back? Please? June 18, 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sarah Turnbull, an Australian journalist, takes a year off work to travel. While she is roaming around Europe she meets a Parisian named Frederic, who invites her to visit him in Paris. It sounds like a good idea at the time; she does, although by the time her plane lands at Charles de Gaulle she is beginning to wonder what possessed her to agree to stay with essentially a complete and total stranger.
The visit goes well, though; so well, in fact, that she moves permanently not just to Paris, but into Frederic's apartment. The memoir that follows is a charming and amusing account of two cultures, embodied by two very different people -- the uptight, nattily dressed Frenchman and the casual, easy-going Aussie -- trying to coexist in a small space. He is appalled when she wears her sweat pants to pick up her morning baguette ("But it's not nice for the baker!"); she doesn't understand his sense of humor. This is a happy story that ends with a wedding, but not before the author has myriad battles with the language, countless misunderstandings with the the customs of the place, and some truly homesick spells yearning for Australia.
I found this book laugh-out-loud funny (although I'll admit my reaction may have been a little extreme) because I have spent time in Paris and saw myself very clearly in Ms. Turnbull's language struggles, efforts to get a journalistic career going, and just general befuddlement. I've passed my copy on to some travelling companions who felt the same way I did. But even if you've never been to France, "Almost French" is well-worth reading for the entertainment value alone. The descriptions are apt. The voice is personable and interesting, so much so that by the time you've finished, you'll feel not just that you've visited Paris, but as if you've made a new friend while you were there.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sarah Turnbull Has Written an Eminently Readable Memoir September 12, 2003
In the mid-1990s, Australian journalist Sarah Turnbull met a French attorney named Frédéric in Bucharest and followed him back to Paris, where they lived together and eventually married. End of a familiar story, right? Wrong. Turnbull, a born reporter, has given her book an apt subtitle: not "Life and a New Love in Paris," but "Love and a New Life in Paris." For, as Turnbull accurately observes, in her case it's the love that brings her to a new life and not vice versa.
Turnbull provides brief glimpses into how love grew between her and "Fred," including descriptions of a huge mirror from which he patiently scraped paint with his thumbnail; for the most part he remains an opaque figure. There is no doubt whatsoever that this idiosyncratic pair are in genuine swing-from-the-gilt mirror love --- after all, she does move to another country for him and he makes enormous and touching attempts to introduce her to his family and his culture --- but Turnbull seems to have made a conscious decision to draw a veil over their love life, both emotional and physical. Her intention is not to describe a romance but to detail her own transformations --- from single woman to spouse, and from Aussie to "almost French."
The "almost" modifying "French" includes a large amount of agonizing awkwardness. The near-universal tourist experience of Parisian rudeness is magnified hundreds of times for someone like Turnbull who chooses to stay on past the usual week or two. "A week might not be long enough," muses the author after her first dinner in Fred's apartment, but she still maintains enough natural savoir-faire to take a breather and travel for several months. After that however, "I return to Paris.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost french
I'm still reading it and I love it. It is a great book, hard to put down.
Published 1 day ago by Sonja Marchesano
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Paris Read
I personally loved this book and all it took me through in Sarah's life. I am infinitely grateful to have such a well-written glimpse into the life of a journalist in Paris. Read more
Published 8 days ago by LiveCleanandBuyBooks
3.0 out of 5 stars Taken on its own terms, pretty good.
Sarah is not French. She's Australian. Still, she pulled up her stakes and rolled the dice by moving in with a man to whom she was attracted, but did not know very well, in a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. P. S. Chubert
2.0 out of 5 stars Lower middle class Australian meets well educated, upper middle class...
Overall good observations about the French but a bit long winded in some parts. In other parts, I felt a bit like she was the equivalent of the Beverly Hillbillies coming to Paris.
Published 1 month ago by ELAINE
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading this book in Paris
I am here in Paris a month, and reading this book.while here has given me insight into many things I have observed as I go about alone, following the self guided walking tours... Read more
Published 2 months ago by gail t.
3.0 out of 5 stars Whiney rant that gets old fast.
Author spends a good bit of time trying to make the French conform to her Aussie sensibilities instead of the other way around. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Susan L. Mease
4.0 out of 5 stars Want to see,feel & smell Paris from home this is the book for u.
Half way through and as u read Paris becomes alive and u can almost touch, smell and feel the surroundings.
Can't wait to see how it ends. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lynda K. Cotton
4.0 out of 5 stars Wins on all fronts
Really enjoyable! Great to read something written by another Aussie girl. Super insightful, witty and just spot in the money! Wins on all fronts!
Published 5 months ago by Kate Clark
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost French
Learned much about why the French are French! An excellent read, amazingly well-written as well as entertaining. Makes me want to book another trip to Paris!
Published 5 months ago by Linda L.Bonotto
1.0 out of 5 stars As others have said, mostly Whiny
Kept waiting for it to get better, but it did not. Gave up 120 pages in. Not even well-written if it were intended to be a self-focused treatise.
Published 5 months ago by wxjeff
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