November 25, 2009

Almost French - Sarah Turnbull


Continuing my new obsession with all things Paris I recently finished re-reading Almost French by Sarah Turnbull. In a nutshell the book is the memoir of an Australian journalist who meets a French man while travelling in Europe and ends up moving to Paris to live with him and continue their relationship together.

I had read the book when it first came out a few years ago and I remember enjoying it then even though I had never been to Paris (or even overseas at all) at that time. I have always loved to read stories by people who have picked up their whole life and moved to another country for adventures - it is a not so secret dream of mine to do the same one day and has been since I was young. My friends had photos of pop stars and actors on their walls and I had photos of my far away dream destinations such as New York and Rome.

So, Almost French was a book I was always going to be drawn to - although I think I enjoyed reading it even more the second time after having now been to Paris (however briefly!) myself.

The author is taking a year off from her job with a television station in Australia to travel around Europe and think about where she would like to head next in her career - and life in general. Then she meets Frederic and her plans are pretty much decided for her - the initial spark they feel for each other turns into something more and Sarah moves to Paris to live with him and start a life there. The unique "Aussieness" of the author is a positive in this book for me - I felt I could connect with her stories about home and how different Paris was to her hometown of Sydney in so many ways - and how that impacted on her transition to living and working in the French capital - but also about how she was able to fall in love with her new home:

I used to marvel at Sydney Harbour too, whenever I saw it. Sparkling blue carves the city with coves and inlets; it's a wonder of nature. But somehow in Paris the feeling of being awe-struck is even stronger. Perhaps because it is still relatively new to me or perhaps because it somehow seems preposterous that such beauty could be created by people. The city is a testament to civilisation. Of course, I know from the last year that living in a gorgeous environment isn't enough to make you happy. But breathtaking beauty of any kind is moving. It makes tourists of us all. It anchors your heart to a place. Just like Sydney Harbour, the wonderful sights of Paris inspire emotion, yes, even love.

Sarah talks about the different aspects of her life that she now has to re-learn in the French way, working, dinner parties, pets, fashion and families and relationships to name a few. I really enjoyed this book as an insight into one Australian woman's experience of Paris and the life she created there.

12 comments:

Dot said...

Great review, this sounds really interesting! Another one for the TBR pile!

Nadia said...

I loved your review - the book sounds like such an interesting read. I love the idea of meeting someone and picking up and moving to a whole new country for love and adventure - it just sounds so romantic and exciting. I'll definitely have to give this book a read. Thanks!

tuulenhaiven said...

Sounds delightful. For myself, I have dreams of traveling to Australia, among other places. :)

Tamara said...

I too love to read about other womens experiences, and I agree with you, this author was able to transport me to Paris and I could imagine myself in her footsteps. I love your reviews and look forward to seeing what your next French read will be.

savidgereads said...

This sounds like a really interesting book and I know just what you mean about books where someone just picks up everything and goes. I keep telling The Converted One to do it as someone who dropped everything and left Brazil for the UK.

Danielle said...

I have this book--I found it at a library sale. I've not yet read it, however, but it's sort of fun fantasy for me, too. I've been in the mood lately for some good travel writing (perhaps the closest I'll get to a vacation at the moment), so may have to go search this one out.

softdrink said...

I really liked how she pointed out some of the diffences between French culture, and Anglo-Saxon culture...things that I had never really thought of, but that made sense.

I just read True Pleasures after seeing your post...I loved it!

Karen said...

Hi Dot - I really enjoyed it - hope you do too!

Hi Nadia - Definitely romantic and exciting! But the book also had a real sense of realism as well which was a great balance I thought.

Hi tuulenhaiven - I hope you make it over here one day!

Hi T - I'm glad you liked the review - I have just ordered my next French read...

Hi savidgereads - I think some people take time to realise if this is something they really want to do or not - I can imagine it is very scary as well as very exciting??!

Hi Danielle - I know what you mean - these sorts of books make me feel as though I have been on a holiday too.

Hi softdrink - I'm so glad you enjoyed True Pleasures!

Tara said...

I read this a few years ago and loved it!

Karen said...

Hi Tara - I'm glad you enjoyed it too. I wish she would write another book...

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