Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Almost French (Book #7)

Almost French (Sarah Turnbull, 2001) is the memoir of an Australian woman who meets a Frenchman while traveling in Europe and ends up moving to Paris to live with him. It's a humorous tale of culture clash and learning to understand and value differences.

Reading it, I remembered my own year in England, which brought its own share of culture clashes and humorous miscommunication. But compared to Turnbull, I had it easy, very easy. England and America are cultural cousins--siblings, really. And for all the "separated by a common language" jokes, aside from some early embarrassments (I can't BELIEVE no one warned me about "fanny") and confusions (I didn't know what a "courgette" was until the cook brought out the pot of zucchini to show me), I never had any trouble communicating. And when called upon to explain or defend some aspect of American current events, I could do so fluently--this was 1997-98, so I was saddled with the Louise Woodward case and the Monica Lewinsky scandal, among other things. Poor Turnbull at first was stuck trying to explain Australia when her vocabulary didn't extend much beyond, "Not all think same. Much change."

I enjoyed the book as a window into modern France. I'm getting to know the France of 200 years ago with some intimacy, and it's illuminating to see what it's become since. Someday I hope to travel extensively there--so much art, so much food, so much history and even prehistory!--but I don't think I'd have the cross-cultural energy to live there. Turnbull's life sounds exhilarating but exhausting. (England I'd move back to in a nanosecond, given the opportunity.)

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Very nice review :)
I look forward to reading "Almost French"...

Easy French