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French or Foe?: Getting the Most Out of Visiting, Living and Working in France Paperback – May 1, 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
When I first read through the book, I thought it was excellent. I honestly thought it was going to prepare me for life in Paris. It certainly freaked me out completely, and I thought for sure we were going to be completely lost in this "proper" world with rallyes, snobby dinner parties, and having to forge close relationships with the cashiers at our local grocery store.
Our son attends Maternelle, which is where Polly Platt says a "rigorous and demanding" education begins. Not true!! I was actually afraid to send him to a school where teachers would talk down to him and force him to sit still for hours. Instead, his teacher is the sweetest woman, and the children spend their days painting, learning songs, reading, and playing. . .much like an American pre-school. In addition, whenever my son says "Bonjour Madame" to a woman in the store or on the street, they are always surprised, and quick to praise both of us. It is not something that is common, and children at the age of 2 (unlike stated in the book) do not usually do this.
After living in France for two years, I picked this book back up, and was frustrated with the poor advice. Polly Platt truly envisions herself as part of the upper crust of Parisian society, and most of her advice is ridiculous, at best.Read more ›
My biggest complaint? Platt's clear desire to impress upon all her readers the fact that she is of a certain social milieu. The name-dropping throughout begins as annoying but quickly becomes embarrassing. Yes, Polly, we are very very impressed that you know endless numbers of top-ranking foreign service people, CEOs, and all other sorts of rich and famous folk. But I, for one, would be more interested in hearing their tales mixed with some about the experiences of more 'common folk'. Also, Platt seems to assume that her readers all share her social aspirations and often wastes pages which could be used for more practical information, I was quite taken aback when she described the "Rally," which is a sort of French Cotillion where teens of the french upper crust meet other rich teens. Platt claimed that American mothers in Paris are dying to get their daughters into a good Rally, then explains the difficulty of doing so, all the while broadly hinting that her children were, of course, accepted into them. I couldn't believe it! No anglo saxon parent I've met here would give a hoot about having his or her child in a Rally. Again, I think Platt often writes for an audience who makes up a very small percentage of her readers.
This is for the upper class, and only addresses the concerns of the upper class and the business world. Immigrants who make up make up a significant part of the French population and yet the only space she reserves for them in her book is a xenophobic anecdote "...the guns that some immigrant ruffians of the suburbs produced to shoot at several of them recently" (at the bottom of page 140 to get it in full context). Arguably, immigrants have little to do with visiting or working in France, but then the fact that she had room to note the ruffians with guns from the suburbs is a little perplexing.
Her treatment of feminism is shocking as well. There is good evidence throughout the book that she not only condones female exploitation, but celebrates it as well.
Finally, so this review doesn't go too long, on pages 255-256 Platt expresses her classist undertone quite plainly. "...at the office you shake hands with practically everyone you see except the janitor..." who god-forbid could be an immigrant, and is definitely someone from a lower social class not deserving of recognition.
To sum up the book, I would recommend it to anyone planning business in France; I think it has some positive things to offer. However, this book is sexist and classist and I think readers should be aware of what they are reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was published quite a while back.
This book was recommended to me by my French tutor, prior to my vacation in France. Read more
I suspect this is largely for people of a higher social echelon than mine, but it was still very entertaining, engaging, and enlightening.Published 2 months ago by pyrex_fish
I just purchased my fifth copy of this book--I give them as parting gifts to friends going to France. It is a pleasant read and the tips it contains are remarkably helpful. Read morePublished 9 months ago by CJ
Adored this book and learned more than I ever expected from it. Parts are laugh out loud funny. Very comprehensive and a compelling read.Published 15 months ago by Tinypaws
This is the 3rd edition and greatly expanded from the 1st edition I read when first visiting French. Read morePublished 18 months ago by G. Kraft
This was a gift and the recipient seemed most pleased with it, saying it looked helpful, fun and funny.Published 18 months ago by Peggy Petersen