Greetings from a sunny south of France. I’m very pleased to report that spring has officially arrived, and besides the whipping about of the Mistral wind, we’ve had loads of lovely weather… days full of sunshine and climbing temperatures. And with the first wisps of wisteria blooming, our neighborhood is full of the colors of the season.
And today I’m thrilled to be presenting a book review / giveway for Flirting with French – a thoroughly enjoyable account of the ups and downs of tackling this beautiful, but often maddening, language. The book is written by lifetime Francophile William Alexander, who at the tender age of 57 decides to (re)commit himself to mastering French – a language that has both fascinated and bewitched him over the years.
The book takes us from a 10-day cycling trip through the countryside of Normandy and Provence, to playing petanque with a French émigré in New York, to a 2-week French immersion program in the lovely the south of France. And anyone who has ever studied French can appreciate the author’s own struggles to overcome conjugation hurdles, face confusing gender agreement (a woman’s breast is… masculine?), and stumble through the minefield that is French pronunciation. Perhaps some of the funniest moments in the book come from discovering the French “work-arounds” we all use when trying to “pass” as native speakers. Mr. Alexander has a triumphant moment in Paris when he manages to give a passing local the time of day as the hour falls magically on 12pm. “C’est midi” (It’s noon), he happily responds. No confusing numbers to deal with here, and a moment of “grâce” as they say in French – a true victory. Likewise, I remember discovering I could ask for a bottle of Evian instead of uttering, “Je voudrais de l’eau” (I’d like some water) and enduring the waiter’s blank stares as I repeated eau eau eau , in front of the equally baffled stares of my husband’s friends and family. A true French catastrophe.
Beyond just being a fun way to escape to France via the author’s entertaining adventures, Flirting with French gives us an incredible amount of detail about the history and origin of the French language. I was surprised by how much I learned during my reading and how much the book helped me with my own French studies. Plus it’s a great way to feel like someone really “gets” you. We both love French, and the French people, but sometimes I could simply burst into tears when thinking about the subjunctive tense. C’est la vie Française my friends, pas simple tout le temps. That’s French life, not easy all the time… but always a grand adventure!
Flirting with French is currently available for purchase on Amazon.com and at local bookstores.
You can also find William Alexander on his Facebook page to learn more about Flirting with French and his other publications.
If you’d like to enter to win a free copy of Flirting with French, please leave a comment below and tell us a little about your experience learning French, or simply a travel experience where you had to use French or another language.
One winner will be chosen at random (using random.org) on Monday, April 20th at 12pm (French time!).
Bonne chance les amis!