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Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France Paperback – May 1 2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1 edition (May 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743287290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743287296
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2 x 19 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #362,390 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Vignettes and vocabulary create the base for this lighthearted memoir by Espinasse, whose blog "French Word-A-Day" spawned three self-published books. Born and raised in Phoenix, Ariz., Espinasse followed her heart to France, where she married and started a family. Thirteen years later, she still endures being labeled l'Américaine and experiences the indignities of grammar correction (by her own children, no less). Each short chapter (some are just one page) is inspired by a French word, shares a brief anecdote about French life (incorporating French words into the text), and ends with a list of all of the vocabulary words used in the anecdote, their English translation and a list of expressions using the word. In between explaining words like complicité("closeness, complicity") and égard ("consideration"), Espinasse recounts her adventures, from fitting in with the French moms to undergoing culture shock on return visits to the States, with honesty and humor, never afraid to have a good laugh at her own expense. With its innovative and entertaining way of teaching the finer points of French, Espinasse's memoir will be popular with travelers and expats alike. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Blogger Espinasse has taken a step backward in the evolution of media by converting selected contents of her Web log into a book. Her popular blog covers a different French word each day for an English-speaking audience. Espinasse's "definitions" come from her everyday experiences, particularly those provoked by her children's frequent delight at their mother's mistakes, misuses, and mispronunciation of words. When her son asks her to pass the ficelle, she searches the table for a string, not comprehending at first that the same word applies to an exceptionally narrow loaf of bread. Her daughter's loss of a baby tooth reminds Espinasse that French children earn a visit from the little mouse, not the tooth fairy. By birth an Arizonan, Espinasse has full command of English, so her explanations are lucid and helpful. Beginning students of conversational French will profit from many of these brief entries, and supplemental tables of expressions go far to demystify French idioms for anyone wishing to speak and write more fluent French. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 62 reviews
58 of 58 people found the following review helpful
An absolute pleasure for all readers May 22 2006
By Helena Wallace - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This isn't the France of travel magazines and guidebooks. It is France seen with the discerning eye of a writer, the loving heart of a mother and the self-effacing wit of an easy-going American in the land of women who iron their children's pajamas. The book's format - weaving French lessons into vignettes of her life in South France - is quite unique and I loved learning the kind of colloquial French I didn't get in classes. But what makes the book so special is Espinasse's humanity. Anyone can describe lavender, cobblestones and the pecadilloes of the French, but here is a woman who notices the little ironies and blessings in everyday life common to us all and has the talent to render them with humor, grace and charm. Even after I finished, I kept picking it up to reread. It's that good.
41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
Words of French Wisdom Feb. 28 2006
By Lauragais - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A perfect book for lovers of France and the French language, for armchair travelers and wishful thinkers - and for newcomers who wish to understand more of the mysterious French ways! How come I write about this book? This is easily explained: for some years I've been one of the lucky e-mail subscribers to Kristin Espinasse's French-Word-A-Day writings (on which the book is based), providing wonderfully witty, humorous and helpful, poetic and profound insights into her life in France. We share her children's growing up in France, we are informed about her husband's work in his vineyards, we get to know her relationship with neighbors and friends, we read about those precious moments when her adopted country generously opens up new horizons for thought and outlook on life in general and especially in France. Always her observations are presented with great respect for the people she meets, never putting them down, yet keeping just enough distance to see and listen to them with a writer's mind. If you want to get into a French mood, if you plan to travel to France, virtual or otherwise, or if you just want to be entertained in an amusing, intelligent and uplifting way, this book is truly a must-have. It not only includes those lovingly detailed stories but provides helpful examples on proper use of words and phrases. Oh, and yes, you do brush up your French in a most entertaining and easy fashion: learning a language can indeed be fun! Put it on your list of Books to Buy - you can't go wrong!
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
A Very Special Person and a Very Special Book June 20 2006
By Jeanette Locker - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has read just about every book written by individuals who have chosen to live in France, I rate this book at the top of the list. I first became aware of Kristin's blog when I was attempting to improve my French. In reality, I continue to read Kristin's pieces because she is witty, a great writer, and most of all not pretentious. She is so sincere, and you feel a special closeness to her because she speaks from the heart. She has become "mon amie" from France who always makes me smile.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Dreaming in French with Kristy! April 14 2006
By Corey Amaro - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Kristy writes with charming simplicity! Her words capture our imagination taking us behind the blue shutters of Provence. There her hand opens wide the view of the life we dream to see inside...cupboards full of homemade goodness, baskets stacked high of humor, dresser drawers overflowing with lavender-scented laundry! Kristy shows us her family, their lives in France, with her collection of tender hearted love and words that you want gobble up page by page!

A wonderful, delightful, enchanting book to help you learn French while eating a baguette and saying, "Bien Bien Encore!"
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Enfants Terribles Jan. 14 2007
By Kevin Killian - Published on
Format: Hardcover
As an American boy growing up in rural France, I would so have enjoyed meeting a sophisticated, yet all-American matron in the next town like Kristin Espinasse, who was way after my time. She is still a relatively young woman and had been in France only thirteen years, so people still ask her "Ca vous manque les Etats-Unis?"

As she admits, she missed things instead of people, as befits an observer whose preference is for the storied multitudinousness of things. She missed cranberry cocktails, peanut butter, shower curtains, happy hour, air conditioning and even the humble family meal of Thanksgiving that comes once a year here in the States. She did not miss her home nor the people she had grown up with. But those of us who have followed her famous blog for years know why, for she had fallen in love with a GRAND example of French l'amour, a wine salesman who is known far and wide to readers of "French Word a Day" as "Sex on Two Legs." Her humble desert home in Phoenix had some appealing, American modernist touches, the stark white light you see on Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings of cow skulls and hydrangea, or the little roadrunner that Arizona youth take as their emblem. But in provence where Espinasse now makes her home, her maison, all bets are off and so far away are her Modernist touchstones that she has stumbled, like Kate Hudson in the Merchant-Ivory film LE DIVORCE, into an incredibly simple world of ancient France, where vocabulary is the key to understanding. Some Espinasse fans love her kids, while I sometimes find them a little annoying, the way they are constantly picking on their mom for her (absurdly minor) mistakes in French--are they somehow picking up on tensions in her marriage, or are they just born brats--what my grandma used to call "fresh"? As an American boy in France, I thought all adults, both native born and tourist, in alliance against the kids; certainly they managed to show a united front of hauteur. At Chez Espinasse, every time poor Kristin fumbles for a word, the kids are in her face sneering triumphantly like mean little Napoleons.

Some readers in my book club have complained that none of the charming photos that decorate her blog manage to make their way into the book. They echo Alice in Wonderland when they complain, "What use is a book without pictures or conversations"? Well, there are plenty of conversations here, and not all of them the dispiriting kind in which your children snicker as you mispronounce "sans" as "cent," (without, for 100). Her neighbors, some of them the very French farming and shopowning kin that feature in Peter Mayle's bestselling books about Provence, have a lot of face time, and even some of her American friends make an appearance from time to time. You will learn oodles of French without even knowing it--tu piges? ("Get it?")