Customer Reviews: Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris
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on March 29, 2014
Author spends a good bit of time trying to make the French conform to her Aussie sensibilities instead of the other way around. She's fixated on wearing her shorts and the reaction that got. I don't know that the reaction would have been any different in London or NYC.
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on August 20, 2015
Read this before my most recent trip to Paris. It is written by an Australian journalist who married a Parisian man. So one learns about Paris and France as experienced by an Anglo who is an expat there. Very nice read. Informative, bits of advice, plenty of humor.
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on December 15, 2005
...but overall, not a book I would recommend. Though the anecdotal information is amusing, and a few of her observations about the French (for example, their underlying self-conscious nature and their need for things to be aesthetically pleasing) are interesting, I must say that this book left me wanting more.

My impression of this book was a woman who, after embarking on new territory and life, decided to write a book about it, but never truly decided where she wanted it to go.

Is it a love story? No, not really. The reader is never given an inside look at the relationship between Frederic and Sarah, their love is hardly touched on. We just know that Frederic exists, but he is secondary to stories about her dog.

Is it a novel? No, not really. And it doesn't read like a novel, or biography either. It reads like Sarah, who happens to be a journalist, composed several articles and then pieced them all together in chronological order.

Is it good for tips if you're going to France? Again, no, not really. While a few of the images presented are mildly funny, the book is mostly full of Sarah embarassing herself (and frankly, she never gained my sympathy or support, her actions were often very annoying, even in English).

So, if you would like a book comprised of several dinner ordeals which caused the author some brief embarrasment, then this is the book for you.
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on November 12, 2005
I had just finished a number of fast-paced reads and found it hard to get into the slower pace of this book. I'm glad I did and enjoyed the author's various stories about Paris and France. I learned a lot about French culture in a personal voice. At first, I had a difficult time getting a clear picture of Frederic and what the circumstance of their meeting was and what inspired her strong feelings etc. (Feeling strong enough to relocate to France.) It wasn't until the move into central Paris that I saw Frederic as a living breathing person. I give the book 3 stars because I feel something missing--that feeling one gets when many "ah-ha" moments are acheived in a book. I did not experience that kind of satisfaction upon finishing it.
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on July 7, 2013
I really enoyed this book! I always wanted to live in France and Paris would be my preference. But living in Paris as an expat I worryied that I would never be considered Parisian, my biggest fear. I would mess up the French language so to be mocked. She experiences my fears right from the beginning, the language barrier, the lack of work, the expense of such a dreamy city but she has the support of a newly found boyfriend. As the story develops, she writes of the various neighborhoods, the history and how she enjoys all the sounds, smells and the regulars who live in her eclectic section of Paris. I am living my Paris life vicariously through Sarah Turnbull! It is a very nice story that I highly recommend if you have ever had any interest er dream of living in Paris.
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I don't know if Sarah Turnbull author of "Almost French" could be described as 'spoiled' as one reviewer suggests, but I do know that reading the memoir of her years adjusting to life in Paris provides enough proof to allow me to categorize her as 'adventurous' perhaps, 'impulsive', throughly 'enamoured' with her adopted city and possessing that "je-ne-sais-quoi" that gives us pause.

Meeting Frederic while on a journalistic assignment in Bucharest throws a curve ball in Australian-born Sarah's easy-care wash-and-wear lifestyle where getting dressed up means making sure there isn't any caked mud embedded in the soles of her Doc Martens. On a romantic whim, she takes Frederic up on his offer to visit him in Paris, and suddenly Sarah finds herself living in the City of Lights where her honed communication skills become meaningless in the whirlwind of French.

Language is not the sole barrier keeping Sarah outside the proverbial candy store window with her nose pressed up against the glass. She doesn't quite understand the French social situation where quiet mannered restraint is the order of the day. In chapter after chapter of amusing Anglo-Saxon vs. French/Latin anecdotes and speculations, Sarah allows us a sparkling glimpse of her personal epiphanies: how acquiring a dog allowed her otherwise forbidden entry, why wearing sweatpants in the street lowers the standards of an entire city, how she could NEVER eat low-fat again, how the Latin interpretation of the law leads to furtive games played opposite the French authorities, how wording something in seemingly flowery language lands her the money needed to sponser her journalism course and why becoming "almost French" isn't nearly as important as "just being yourself." Sarah is certainly not 'spoiled', she's just a victim of intense culture shock. Her revelations are imparted with a cozy friendly narrative sprinkled with just enough dialogue to imbue each character with some depth. I would like hear more from her in a further book as the shock wears off or new shocks electrify with new situations.

Readers expecting the details of Sarah's personal relationship with Frederic, her future husband, to be spun out like a rich romantic fairytale, be warned; even though the book is subtitled love and a new life in Paris, the love portion remains private; she relates only that they met in Bucharest, connected and suddenly were living together in France. The reader catches glimpses of Frederic as the quintessential Frenchman; the memoir focuses on Sarah's adjustment, not to Frederic, but to his country and its occupants. It makes for charming light reading and is recommended to all who like travel essays and don't mind a change from finding the provincial country idyll to discovering the heartbeat of a city.
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on October 6, 2013
I'm actually re-reading this book in Paris right now. A friend loaned me her copy when I went to France a few years ago.
If you'd like some insight into the French psyche then this book has it.
Sarah tells of her real life experience of meeting a Frenchman while working in Bucharest (she is Australian). Within a very short time she moves in with Frederique and is still there seven years later when she writes this book. She beautifully describes her love/ hate relationship with Paris, one of the world's most beautiful, incredible cities but often one of the most inhospitable.

If you dream of moving to France one day or just want to read about someone who took the leap then this is the book for you. Her experience is difficult yet romantic and beautiful; that's Paris for you!
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on July 3, 2005
I got this book to read on a business trip and it went almost too fast. Sarah has a great style of writing to make the sentences disappear. I'm one of hundreds of poor Americans who love Paris and dream of living there.

I wanted to write this review only to point out that her mention of the movie Ridicule is inaccurate in saying it is about Louis XVI's court: it is Louis XIV's court. (a full II Louis's earlier) That is when the cult of the bon mot was developed and became so important in establishing one's position in society.

Having visited France a few times, I am grateful for the insights Sarah provides.
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on December 16, 2005
This book by Sarah Turnbull is absolutely wonderful. First, she has a gift of choosing just the right words and/or phrases to express a thought and, you get a perfect sense of what life is in France and, especially, in Paris. She does not skimp on detail, but does not elaborate so much that it becomes tedious. She is honest about her experiences - both good and bad - and one appreciates the fact that she is not trying to impress, but simply to recount. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who would like to know what it would be like for a foreigner to enter into the tightly-woven world of Paris and the French.
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on August 9, 2007
I really enjoyed reading this book! It is true that it might not have been very deep, but Sarah's comments on Paris made me feel like I was there again. Very therapeutical. Also, I recommend reading this book slowly, a couple of pages at a time, so you can really absorb every comment. If you read it all at once, it is easy to overlook small details. Read a page, laugh at her comments, think about how they are very true. Put the book down. Pick it up an hour later. I think you will get the most out of it if you pace yourself. In all, I recommend this book to anyone who longs for Paris.
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