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What French Women Know [Hardcover]

Debra Ollivier
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 15 2009
The Los Angeles Times bestseller! "A Gallic prescription for living a life that is richer, more sensual, messier, and a lot more fun" (Boston Globe)

It's not the shoes, the scarves, or the lipstick that gives French women their allure. It's this: French women don't give a damn. They don't expect men to understand them. They don't care about being liked or being like everyone else. They accept the passage of time, celebrate the immediacy of pleasure, embrace ambiguity and imperfection, and prefer having a life to making a living.

In What French Women Know, Debra Ollivier goes beyond stale ooh- la-la stereotypes, challenging ingrained notions about sex, love, marriage, motherhood, and everything in between. With savvy, provocative thinking from French mistresses and maidens alike, Ollivier presents a refreshing counterpoint to the tired love dogma of our times, and offers realistic, liberating alternatives from the land that knows how to love.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous! March 29 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I absolutely loved Ollivier's brisk writing style and clever analysis of what makes the French so fantastique! Her numerous allusions to French authors and philosophers provides a lot of future reading opportunities to really dig deep into the historic underpinnings of French culture. Must read for those enamoured, as I, with all things French.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By No One
I whipped through this book pretty fast, eager to find any bits of information that can help me land my french man friend. Its a bit repetitive, but maybe its needed for some of the fundamental differences to sink in. Definately a great read if your are trying to understand the French relationship culture. The reality of American men is kind of depressing however, because they are so very different.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  68 reviews
50 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Enjoyable Read! April 11 2010
By P. Greer - Published on Amazon.com
I admit it. I find French women fascinating. What's funny is that I don't even know any. Oh, but I've heard about them, and read about them, and tried desperately to try and learn to tie a scarf with panache. So when I stumbled upon, What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind by Debra Ollivier, I didn't even think twice before adding it to my cart.

I've read lot's of books about French women, from what they wear to what they eat. This book was different. It delved more into why they are what they are. More than that, it helped me see why, as an American, I am what I am.

Like most other American girls, I grew up wanting to be like everyone else. Wanting to fit in, wanting to be liked. French women don't want to be like everyone else, they want to stand out, they want to add their individual touches. And as far as being liked....they don't care. They don't feel the need to be nice, to go around smiling at everyone.

Another interesting area was in child rearing. They are much more inclined to try and raise independent children. The author talks of the day care that her two year old attended. The daycare was taking the two year olds off on a two day field trip! The French parents all let their children go and enjoyed a lovely two days relaxing with their husbands, while none of the American women would let their children go.

All in all, I enjoyed this book. Do I think that French women are better than me? No. Do I think I am better than French women? No. Do I think that perhaps we could learn from each other? Yes?
54 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and fun Aug. 27 2009
By Sharilyn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
What French Women Know examines the differences between French and Anglo-Saxon attitudes towards love, sex and life in general. This is no dry in-depth cultural study. Rather it is smart, sassy and at times downright funny overview of opposing viewpoints.

Debra Ollivier extols the virtues of the French's devil-may-care, savour the moment philosophy, a stark contrast to American women's tireless pursuit of perfection. The book isn't really preachy, but the author makes her point very clear: the allure of French women is largely based on their capacity to keep their lipstick on as they roll with the punches.

This is a refreshing alternative to the "try harder, do more" manta of most women's self-help books. While I have no intention of moving to France or ceasing to shave my armpits, I do agree that it would be nice if we Americans knew the difference between making a living and having a life. Perhaps we would be happier if we took a few lessons from our French sisters and cultivated an air of mystery, acted our age, broke a few rules and flirted with more men.

4.5 stars
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It is Attitude Mon Cherie! Nov. 24 2009
By Lee Mellott - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
It is always interesting to read how different cultures perceive life. According to author Ollivier, French women celebrate individual beauty, know how to handle the differences between men and women, embrace their own rules, don't mind a lack of perfection and enhance their femininity.

Ollivier shares how French women use these skills to their advantage. Clearly in many ways many French women have learned to live a life of enjoyment and acceptance instead of striving for a non attainable perfection and focusing on the negative.

In her book Ollivier points out the ways a French woman might perceive something vs. how an American woman might. This is not to say a French woman's way is better, it is just different.

For example, if a daughter bought her boyfriend home for the first time an American might give him the third degree immediately while the French would be loathe to ask personal questions. Which way is right depends on your thinking.

But what is so interesting is how it boils down to our approach to things and attitude. If you are unhappy with how things are for you now or want a little attitude change checking out the book may give you fresh ideas on how to approach things. Then again if all is working for you, no need for a book to learn about "What French Women Know" unless you want to know what they know just so you know :)

~ Lee Mellott
37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How French Women Seem When You're from LA Sept. 27 2011
By BLB - Published on Amazon.com
First off, be aware that the author is from Southern California and was apparently raised with so little culinary knowledge that she was impressed to find that a pie crust can be made from graham crackers and butter and that a man does not have to have gone to culinary school in order to know how to devein a duck liver. She was also raised in an atmosphere in which girls are raised to live in order to spend most of their social time in the company of other women, frantically trying to gain the approval of other women. No wonder France bowled her over.

If you are a woman who actually prefers the company of men, women who like men and flirting with men, and women who are nevertheless perfectly happy not being men, then you already know nearly half of what it took for French women to impress the author. The other half is fun to read, but be warned that the author commits the common Southern Californian sin of throwing her whole allegiance unquestioningly behind her current fad in intellectual thinking.

In other words, this is not a deeply thought-out work of comparing and contrasting French and American attitudes. It is a book about why the French amazed and charmed a Californian enough that she has become a French citizen. Even if you're not ready to drink the Kool-Aid--or should it be Orangina?--you might enjoy the safari.

Be warned: the audiobook is read by the author, not a professional voice actor. Be prepared to enjoy/suffer accordingly.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars French women and romance Nov. 3 2009
By Jamie Murphy - Published on Amazon.com
I liked this book for the quality of the writing as much as for the content. I hope lots of American women read it, though I don't think it will make too much of a difference in influencing the way they act with men. Just a hunch. In Boston/Cambridge, where lots of unfriendly young people abound, you can't even get eye contact on the street from 90 percent of the people--they're all on their cell phones managing their lives, not being present. And this is a college town. Before you can flirt, and go outside your comfort zone (like French women apparently can) you have to be able to trust, take chances, and know and like yourself. Perhaps that's what the French women are grounded in from childhood, not to mention feeling good about sex. American women, in my experience, don't express their feelings well; asking for what they want--especially regarding sex and love. When I was a teenager (now 60) and heard Diana Ross and Linda Ronstadt sing, it was an incredible turn on for me; discovering that women have sexual desire and love desire for a man. I rarely experience it from American women which is why this book gave me hope. I may or may not get along with a French woman but I'm glad they are out there being steamy. Hope springs eternal.
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