on October 15, 2013
Terrific new book in the whole francophile genre. I just got it delivered to my kindle, and have skimmed thru it. Each chapter takes a look at how French women handle different aspects of feminine life from skin care to clothing, diet, exercise and far more. This is a grown up version of Helena Frith Powell's "All You Need to be Impossibly French" intended for the over 40 crowd. It is a longer version of Anne Barone's Chic and Slim Toujours; Aging Beautifully the French Way. It doesn't copy either author, it adds to the information and complements it.
The preface starts by asking what age has to do with anything really? She briefly explains her move to France for 2 years that morphed into 25 and still going as she met and married a charming French man. Like others before her, she looked around her and saw a different landscape. She liked how French women around her approached life, and set out to find what they were doing that made them a bit more attractive, different, worth emulating.
As she covers each subject she uses a lot of different sources from dermatologists to her French girlfriends. The information is extensive and each chapter had new stuff I've not bumped into before.. This is an excellent new book in what is becoming a crowded field. Entire books are written on the French diet, and her chapter summarizes much of that wisdom, but she gives fresh good advice.
Even if you own Helena Frith Powell, Debra Ollivier, Anne Barone, Mireille Guiliano, Jennifer Scott and Marie-Anne LeCoeur you will not be disappointed in this new book.
Chapter 1 begins with Allure. A very French concept and one that encompasses the whole person, brains, soul, heart and body. What goes on inside, makes a great difference to the attractiveness of the whole package. This has to do with decisions and priorities. In a sense this chapter and the ninth chapter are the bookends of this book. Chapter one is talking about moving into change from the head and heart on out, while the last chapter pulls it together discussing poise, charm and generally being fun to be around.
Chapter 2 covers skin care, from face to body, including nails and feet. Some great advice aimed at over 40 women. Hopefully younger women reading this will remember that and not complain about it. She does give some advice in AVOIDING things like smoking and sun exposure. Apparently a lot of older women in France ARE quitting smoking simply for the sake of their skin. Who knew? I was fascinated by a tip, new to me, about soaking the feet in a bath of warm water, epsom salts and ASPIRINS. Yes, she adds a couple of aspirin to the soak, which soften the hard skin, and helps slough dead skin. Makes perfect sense since Aspirin is also known as Beta Hydroxy Acid or BHA for short in creams and potions that work at loosening dead skin cells. Much more in this informative chapter.
Chapter 3 is on Makeup, The focus is building a light, natural look. Chapter 4 on Hair, Cut, condition and colour has some excellent tips by 2 top French colorists which I plan to try soon..
Chapter 5 covers Dieting and the art of eating well. This one has a few new wrinkles to the whole French diet paradox but for the most part it's common sense and if you've read widely in this subject, it won't be much new. However it's always nice to hear it stated a slightly different way, and she does add a couple of new things from a French nutrition expert.
Chapter 6 is Exercise--and she says yes, as French women age in the baby boomer generation, they have definitely picked up the exercise habits. But you still won't catch them hanging out all day in exercise gear, nor are their exercise get ups baggy, loose or in loud screechy colour combos. As always, they fit well, show off the body that took so much effort, and announce quietly with conviction that this person maintains her style and chic always.
Chapter 7 On to the closet and the fabled French wardrobe. Less about the minimalist wardrobe and more about dressing well to suit yourself. Chapter 8 Accessories. How to deploy them effectively. This is another chapter worth the price of the book just for the tips alone.
Chapter 9 pulls it all together. I'd call it being fun to be around but the author talks about poise and charm. It's something that is often lost in a white knuckle drive to succeed here in North America. Just how much fun ARE you just to hang out with. Do you put your career and your goals so far in the front that your friends, husband or kids feel they come a far second. She gets into something I've really only heard Anne Barone get in depth with and that is the intellectual legacy of the salonistes. The art of conversation, the development of the intellect as essential to the whole package as laughter and a warm smile.
The epilogue is aptly titled La Nouvelle Moi, A Work in Progress.
Great book, loved it, and I'm glad I bought a copy. It is a complement to the authors above, and is a welcome addition on my bookshelf.