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on November 6, 2012
Jennifer L. Scott's Lessons from Madame Chic is certainly a must-have for Francophiles, but it is also a wonderful resource for anyone who wishes to cultivate a more simply luxurious way of living. Through beautiful narrations, Madame Chic's lessons are shared in three different parts on the subjects of Diet & Exercise, Style and Beauty, and lastly, How to Live Well.

Based on Scott's time as a foreign exchange student in Paris as a young woman, she is now a mother of two young daughters, happily married and living in southern California, so she converses with her readers from a relatable platform. Immediately upon reading it again, I was reminded of another author who shares her insights and tips on living well with inspiration from the French - Mireille Guiliano. Scott's tips are weaved skillfully into her experiences and time with Madame Chic and her Parisian family, so much so that you feel you are having a conversation with a trusted, yet wiser girlfriend.

And the beauty of discovering her book was that it didn't have to end once I finished reading it. As the founder of the blog The Daily Connoisseur, readers are able to enjoy a regular dose of inspiration and YouTube video instructions on how to continually integrate the fine art of French living into their every day lives.

The re-released edition of Lessons from Madame Chic (279 pages) contains the same content I initially raved about in my review in April, but is now adequately accessorized with illustrations found throughout the entire book from the talented artist and designer Virginia Johnson.

Filled with specific advice, anecdotes and descriptions of Madame Chic and Madame Chic's entire Parisian family, Scott shares ways to live a fulfilling life that are not only simple, but help to create a luxurious life that is rich and focused on what most all of us seem to want to put at the top of our priority list - healthy relationships, good health and the ability to be our best selves.

As I was reading I found myself underlining a sentence or two on nearly every page that I didn't want to forget, and after going back over these annotations I realized that the lesson of living formally doesn't have to take the beauty or the spontaneity out of living, but in fact it can enhance it. By showing respect to the life we've been given and then continue to create for ourselves we consciously make it all the more enjoyable.

Below are a few ideas for welcoming in a bit more formality and at the same time simplicity that I especially took favor too. Have a look:

1. Play classical music throughout your home

If you don't have any Bach cds laying around the house, simply go to Pandora on your computer, iPad or iPhone and search classical symphonic music, and it will create a radio station for you for free.

2. Eliminate snacking

Each meal that you sit down for is an opportunity to eat well. Scott explains how dinner in Paris with Madame Chic's family always included at least three, sometimes four, courses and one was always a cheese platter, yet still her host family was slender because when they ate it was mindful.

3. Create rituals to look forward to

Maybe every Saturday morning you wake up and stroll down to your favorite coffee shop for a tasty treat and chat with a good friend, or you play checkers with your son every Sunday evening in front of the fire or perhaps you take a bubble bath and savor a glass of wine after Monday has wrapped up. Take time to discover the activities that you enjoy doing either alone or with those you love and make them regular occurrences that are something to look forward to.

4. Wear luxurious lingerie

The mistake that seems to be perpetuated regarding lingerie is that it is worn for someone else. This is not entirely correct. In fact, a woman should wear beautiful, high-quality lingerie for herself. Simply knowing you are keeping something to yourself and at the same time have treated yourself to something luxuriously wonderful is certain to raise your confidence at least a smidge. While it will take time to build your lingerie wardrobe, know that you are worth investing in.
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on December 16, 2011
I enjoyed this book tremendously and found the chapters on skin care and makeup especially interesting to me personally. The author comes across as honest and candid about her feelings regarding her experience with French culture. Several things she says have also been discussed in Mireille Giuliano's books, so there is consistency.

However, I could not help but think about how much easier it would be for Americans to have a better work-life balance if so many people I know didn't have to work overloaded jobs at 50 and 60 hours a week to keep from getting laid off, plus deal with 2-hour daily commutes, and bosses who complain vigorously if a person leaves one's desk for anything more than a trip to the restroom or the company microwave to warm a frozen lunch, never mind a refreshing lunchtime walk. This is why we have gyms and home exercise videos, to replace what the French people get naturally in the course of a day's business. Also, it would be easy to turn out beautiful, gourmet meals and have an uncluttered house if the working women I know only had to work part-time like the lady of the house for the French host family of the author. The habit of the Frenchmen to pick up after themselves is a big help to the uncluttered look of a house, as well. How gallant of them.

The big secret of the French weight control seems to be lots and lots of walking and stair climbing. We're just not set up for that. Things here are laid out in a spacious manner conducive to driving and many, many areas, both commercial and residential, are too dangerous to walk in, whether because of pit bulls, no sidewalks, or demographics. The neighborhoods compact enough to walk in for any food marketing are generally older, and simply not safe. These are also the areas being referred to now as "food deserts".

I have just read that French workers receive 30 mandated vacation days per year, plus 10 holidays. When was the last time the majority of U.S. workers you know took any more than a total of 10 business days in a year's time -- and maybe not even that if there have been layoffs in the company, so now extra work is piled on an already overloaded job.

A wonderful book about the French lifestyle, and a sad commentary on ours.
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on March 19, 2012
I just bought the Kindle version of this book over the weekend. It is a short read, and I skimmed over the last half of it. I enjoyed the concept, and I'm thoroughly impressed that this book began as a self-published title. It has received a lot of reviews and acknowledgment (an article on CNN.com!). I have also lived in Western Europe as an exchange student to Switzerland, and I wanted to see if Ms. Scott's observations/experiences were similar at all to mine.

Overall, this book is a good primer for those looking to bring refinement and simplicity to their lives. I agreed with many precepts and already utilize nearly all of her tips in my own life. Thus, I did not necessarily learn anything new from this book. However, for someone who has not traveled much or someone who wishes to give a book to someone looking for a more European/upscale lifestyle this book has much to offer.

For some however, this book many not resonate due to the banal advice. The grammatical errors and the colloquialisms detracted from Ms. Scott's overarching messages of elegance, grace, and formality as well. For instance, in the Kindle version, the word "tenant" is used when describing a Parisian lifestyle approach. From the sentence context, "tenet" would have been the correct word choice. These kinds of oversights can be easily forgiven when someone understands the spirit of the book. However, to me and other bibliophiles, this kind of mistake might be distracting. This is not to criticize Ms. Scott's efforts to make seemingly difficult lifestyle changes accessible; rather it is merely a comment or warning for readers who might be looking for sophisticated French cultural commentary or analysis.

On the whole, I enjoyed this book, and I have started reading Ms. Scott's blog The Daily Connoisseur as a result.
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on February 16, 2014
The book was full of cliches about French life and could have used a copy editor. I'm not pleased with the poor grammar and lack of substance in the book. The book's premise held a lot of promise-chic living without materialism-but failed to deliver.
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on December 19, 2014
I was disappointed in this book. It didn't contain any information that can't be found in your average magazine article on "French Women Don't Get Fat/Stay Stylish/Are Super Chic." I have read several of these books by different authors, and while they're all fairly lightweight, this one seemed particularly so.

The concept--the author shares what she learned as a California exchange student living in Paris--is interesting, and I did get a good sense of the host family she calls the Chics. However, frankly their lifestyle didn't appeal to me. While most books about French women make them seem glamorous, this one reminded me of that Henry James novel where the American ingenue gets trapped in marriage to a French nobleman and ends up in a stultifying lifestyle. The Chics live an extremely formal existence--for example, no one in the family ever wears jeans; even around the house the men "relax" in dress pants and the wife in silk blouses and an apron. It seemed like very 1950s Leave it to Beaver life and I'm not sure why anyone would want to emulate it.

The author seems like she is very young. Other books I have read about French style, etc. are by older women and the French do value experience. This one still seemed like a wide-eyed college girl.

There were a few interesting tidbits, such as the fact that French homes have much smaller kitchens far from the main living areas--as opposed to the Open Plan U.S. home concept where everyone is constantly in the kitchen or near the kitchen (no wonder we eat so much!). However, most of it was not really new. The author also went into a lot of anecdotes about her personal experiences that didn't necessarily relate to France, which I did not care about.

On the plus side, the book is organized into small, easily digestible bits, so the format was easy to read.

Overall, I wouldn't recommend this unless this is the very first reading you've ever done on this subject or you are very young yourself.
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on February 22, 2013
Californian Jennifer Scott was from LA's dominant 'nature' culture, where people pad about barefooted or in flip-flops, whose women wear wrap-around skirts (you get the idea), and all is oriented to do-your-own-thing comfort, so long as one is not rude or judgmental. LA is where most are brand- and fad-driven human beings who have settled for being consumers and aping with varying success, Hollywood types, musicians, or characters featured in People Magazine..

She goes to Paris to live six months with a very traditional family. Their disciplined yet warm, relaxed lifestyle is also very simple, uncluttered, and efficient. Scott goes into all that, but her first chapters focus on various beauty, diet, and makeup secrets which French women use to appear chic yet natural.

She leaves Paris more aware of herself as a woman and what being a woman means. In the bargain she learns how great it is to be a human being with civilised routines. She leaves appreciating how to enjoy simple pleasures that regular routines meant to satisfy human needs can give rise to. Had she known where to look, she could have found the same in some quarters of the US, tho' finding it in what has become the Great American Freak Show, would have been exceedingly hard.
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on January 16, 2014
This might have been OK as a short article in a fluffy magazine, but as a book it wears very thin. The content is obvious and probably not of use to anyone except clueless 15 year-olds. The writing style is exceedingly mediocre and dull, and reads like the lame blog that it apparently started life as.

Much better books covering similar ground with far greater panache are Tim Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style (Tim Gunn's Guide to Style),Paris Street Style,French Women Don't Sleep Alone: Pleasurable Secrets to Finding Love and How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace.
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on March 8, 2013
Okay, I am not the most feminine girl on earth, I saw this book at Barnes and Nobles and I fell in love with it, yet I didn't buy it but I couldn't keep it out of my mind. I bought the ebook version and I LOVED this book. It has a lot of details on how to live on a daily basis, makeup, hair, clutter in the closet and now Im reading a chapter on how to live my femininity to the fullest. I really love this book because it is very down to earth and not obnoxious.

I just bought the hard cover version because it's so beautiful and I love to cuddle with it in bed :)
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on February 24, 2013
I read "Bringing up Bebe", and became obsessed with French parenting! I've read everything I can get my hands on, it's just so fascinating ...unfortunately I am no where near ready to have children yet, so I turned focus to myself instead. I know how the french raise their children, but how do the women live? I read a bit of her blog on the "no make-up" look and was so intrigued that I immediately ordered this book. I read it cover to cover as soon as it came! Although it did get a bit repetitive and slightly boring near the end, I'm really glad that I read it. I am so inspired! How have I never heard about the 10 item wardrobe, or the no make-up look? I feel like I'm in an american bubble! I've started implementing many of Madame Chic's lessons into my life, and they make me feel so good about myself! I've lost 2 pounds in the last 9 days just from listening to my body, making my food interesting, taking the time to appreciate it, and eating high quality products. I threw out half my wardrobe when I finished the book because she made me feel like I deserve to look good, love what I wear, and present my best to the world. This book has increased my perception of my self worth. I feel like I'm worth it, and I deserve the best. I just loved everything Madame Chic dished out. I highly recommend this book.
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on May 7, 2013
I love love love this book. I finished it in two days. While it has a lot of information, it was an easy read. The author talks to you like a peer and interjects her personal experience with tips. This book is about a lifestyle change. Since I read it, I have gotten rid of most of the items in my closet, and started to clear the extra clutter. I am more mindful of what I purchase (no more 15 minute Target frenzy shopping). I believe that this is a great book and am really taking a lot of the concepts to daily practices in my life. I also recommend you check out her blog dailyconnoisseur dot com if you want to get taste of her tips!
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