- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Les Américains; 1st edition (2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0997410221
- ISBN-13: 978-0997410228
- Package Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.2 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 139 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #701,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Beginning French: Lessons from a Stone Farmhouse Paperback – 2016
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"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb
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*STARRED REVIEW* A California couple realize their ambition of owning a house in rural France in this debut memoir by Les Américains. The transition was not without calamity, and when the boiler malfunctioned, flooding the house with water and ruining the majority of their possessions, the two grasped that striving for a new life abroad can come with a price. Living in France offers many rewards, and the couple's triumphs in learning the language and assimilating into a new culture are a joy to discover. The gorgeous landscapes provide an ever-present backdrop, captured in bursts of warm, descriptive prose: "As we drove, the landscape changed from rolling hills and vineyards to forests and rocky outcrops. Golden cliffs curved out over the road, undercut by the carving action of long-ago rivers." The duo displays a gastronomic fascination with French cuisine, and the text delivers mouthwatering recipes, such as an indulgent goat cheese soufflé and a scrumptious lemon cheesecake. Thoughtfully written, understated, and without pretension, this book should appeal to Francophiles and epicureans alike. It also pays testament to the single-mindedness, bravery, and unfaltering desire of two particularly likable "Américains" who set out to fulfill a dream. A delightfully evocative farmhouse tale; as satisfying as a summer evening on a French terrace, with a cool glass of rosé in hand. --Kirkus
"Move over Peter Mayle, the Americans have landed." --France Today
"For anyone who ever wanted to ditch it all and move far away, this is the book for you. Funny and unforgettable." --For the Love of Books
"If this is the closest I get to a vacation this year, I'll take it." --The Suburban Eclectic Review
"A practical guide, a beautifully written story, and a fabulous cookbook...this book makes you hungry!" --The Good Life France
"A delightfully evocative farmhouse tale; as satisfying as a summer evening on a French terrace, with a cool glass of rosé." --Kirkus Reviews
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As the title of the book deftly implies, the authors are learning not only the French language, but the unique and absorbing “art of being French.” Their journey takes the reader from those first tentative French language classes through a series of life lessons cleverly disguised as chapters on the way to realizing a life-long dream of living in Europe.
In a voice that is intelligent, witty, and self-deprecating, the authors share with us the delights of living in a provincial farmhouse (with a magnificent view!) in a small hamlet in the Dordogne, and the inevitable tribulations of the minor (and not so minor) catastrophes that accompany home ownership in an unfamiliar culture. The descriptions of the wonderful friends and neighbors who help them to cope are so clearly drawn, I feel that they, too, share this evening over a glass of wine, and perhaps some of the mouthwatering dishes produced by daughter Sara. Many of these recipes are offered in the book, and linked to the website.
I am determined not to give anything away that might spoil the reader’s experience; however, it must be said that I am full of admiration for the 'formidable' Eileen, who faces down an irate chef armed with his butcher knife; brings a smile to the face of a taciturn tax agent; and deals with aplomb the task of relocating the large, hirsute spiders from the house to the garden where they can “scare the bejeesus out of the other bugs.” And because I have promised not to give too much away, I shall say nothing of the wabbit.
I am hopeful that the authors will continue to chronicle their experiences (and their heavenly duck burgers) for us to enjoy. So, pull up your favorite chair, pour a glass of red wine, and enjoy an enchanting evening with Marty and Eileen at their stone farmhouse in the Dordogne! Your visit will be truly 'formidable!' I can't wait for the next one.
(By the way: A plus for those of us who compulsively look up words: most of the French words and phrases are linked to a comprehensive glossary in the back of the book. If you read the book on a Kindle or other device, you have only to touch/click the word to be taken to the definition. My kind of book!)
Think: HGTV's House Hunter's International Restoration meets A Good Year, with a dash of Lost In Translation and Chocolat.
Truly a delight to read and re-read.
Two Californians decide to buy a second home in the French countryside and live the good life. They find that the good life takes a lot of hard work and “bonne chance”. This book shares pleasant afternoons and fair French evenings intertwined with plenty of the unique characters and exasperating situations that Americans inevitably find themselves confronted with in Europe. And,of course, food and wine.
I enjoyed living vicariously through these Americans as they try to live the French country life and find that their dreams do come true, just not the way they thought they would.
Humorous and entertaining, this book is a great summer read, especially if you know you aren't making it to Europe this year. Sit outside with a glass of Rosé and roasted figs with goat cheese you have prepared from a recipe in the book, and dream of your next voyage à l’étranger.