Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France Paperback – May 1 2007
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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.
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 Amazon.com (beta)
A wonderful, delightful, enchanting book to help you learn French while eating a baguette and saying, "Bien Bien Encore!"
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?")
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