20 February, 2010

Books on France

It is a lot of fun to read about other people's experiences in Paris and in France in general. I have  been a voracious reader since I arrived. Not because I'm a great scholar, because there were only French programs on television. I wish I had read the same kind of stuff in Rome.

My daughter, Clio, loves food and she recommended Clotildes Edible Adventures in Paris by Clotilde Dusoulier. This was Dick's bible the first two weeks. And Clotilde did suggest very nice little cafes and affordable restaurants. However, after awhile we found our own little dens.

Another book my daughter suggested was Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. David is a pastry chef from San Francisco and he told stories about his adventures as a gay man here, making friends and getting along with the trades people in the neighborhood and added a few very delicious recipes, which I can't make here because there is no place to set the oven. There is an oven, which is sitting up so high we need a ladder to reach it. And it would have to sit in the living room where are bed is as well.

Talk to the Snail by Stephen Clarke, who is a vegetarian guy from Britain. He didn't talk much about food, more about the great joy of going to the doctor, how to shop, how to get along with the French. It was funny and informative.

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull, an Aussie who was invited by a French guy after two days of knowing him to come to Paris. He offered her the use of his home and would be her guide. She was fascinated, so she went. Everything turned out well, or so it seems, because she is now married to him. Since she lives very close to our apartment, we learned more about our neighborhood. Her problems are slightly different, because she had a French partner, but still her problems would be the same for other women who come here to live. I liked this book a lot.
An Englishman, Amoreaux, Love in Deepest France by Michael Sadler, who falls in love with a French woman and moves to her village to pursue her. It was really over the top, but I laughed out loud on the Metro, in cafes and while walking and thinking about it. Yes, a fun read and very short.

The Secret Life of France by Lucy Wadham. I read this book before Stephen Clarke's. Lucy is a Brit who married her French husband when she was 19 and pregnant. Hers is not so much a story of the foibles of the French, but an historical perspective on the problems she encountered. She is now in her 30s after raising her first family, divorcing and marrying again. She still lives in France with her second family. I liked this book a lot as well. Lucy had a scholarly approach.

Sixty Million Frenchmen can't be Wrong by Jean Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow, a married couple, who are Canadian Journalists. They lived here three years. There is nothing amusing about this book, but I understand a lot more about why the French tend to be defensive, won't let Muslim women wear the Burka, and their problems with the Anglo Saxons. I have been told that some of the facts have changed since the book was written, but on a whole is good. One problem with the book is the first chapter when they decide that the French were here forever, or as they put it, through many ice ages. That almost put me off, but  I am glad in the end that I read it.

Last but not least is a sweet little book called French Milk by Lucy Knisley. She spent six weeks with her mother in Paris and kept a diary of her daily life in cartoon. She is studying to be a cartoonist , and this was a good start. A 21 year old  and her relationship with her mother.

I am reading a detective story now, but I have three more I want to finish before I leave.


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