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A Foreign Affair: A Passionate Life in Four Languages
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A Foreign Affair: A Passionate Life in Four Languages

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  59 ratings  ·  11 reviews
A countless number of readers have praised this superlative book for the author's intelligent and informative writing, presenting a wealth of unique content on the subject that cannot be found elsewhere.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 6th 2012 by Createspace (first published January 1st 2004)
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Hazel Edwards
The chapters and anecdotes based on the actual interpreting jobs were an interesting insight into a different and affluent world. And a recognition of the skill of those operating in several languages simultaneously. To go from war-austere Britain to the abundant food and luxury of European political and conference society was a definite contrast and probably why there is so much stress on consumption. Early personal chapters were a little naively irritating and hedonistic. For someone who neede ...more
The book gives an insight into the world of a multi-linguist, a translator and interpreter, and a woman at that, juggling working life with that of married and motherhood. I don't know how she could do all that. Also an example of a woman who stood by her values, overcoming adversities with her passion and patience, and coming out stronger above them all. No life's perfect but it's amazing how one can make it perfect with the right mindset. An inspiration.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. From a low-income British family living on war rations, denied the chance to go to university, she still found her way into this amazing life as an interpreter at the UN. Life in Switzerland, conferences all over the world, plenty of funny anecdotes about the difficulties of translating, and adventures in different cultures. Escaping from Imelda Marcos through an underground tunnel (lined with treasures in case of a quick getaway), having to wear ski clothes in Ku ...more
This was the fourth book I read during term 1 studying French at the Alliance Francaise. While not particularly focussed on French, Barnes does marry a French man and lives in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. It is a lovely story of one woman's life leaving her English family's poor life after World War Two and happily landing on her feet in an international, busy and wealthy lifestyle of interpreting for the United Nations. Barnes' storytelling has the lovely sentimental tones of a woma ...more
This is very much worth reading. Firstly because of her account of a "passionate life in four languages" as a UN conference interpreter in the heyday of this profession - and she is a fine example of its professionalism - and of the frequent work-related travel to exotic places before the onset of mass tourism; and secondly because of the frank and moving account of what was an extremely difficult and painful marriage. The resolution of this, in the last chapter, is truly astounding and well wor ...more
a fun book about her life as an interpreter with lots of interesting characters and after having met Valerie, she was a regular in the bookshop I was working in , she really lived up to the Valerie in the book ,a very funny lady.
I believe this is an autobiograhpy or something like's someone's real life story and generally I'm not a fan of non-fiction, but loved this story. It makes me want to learn more languages and just drink in the world.
This was an amazing life story which I found very motivating.

An interesting read. Very frank about her life.
Loved this book!:-) what an amazing life story!
My favourite book! Escapism at its best!
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