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C'est la Vie: An American Woman Begins a New Life in Paris and--Voila!--Becomes Almost French

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  1,186 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Bestselling writer Suzy Gershman (dubbed “Super Shopper Suzy” by Oprah) is our answer to Peter Mayle in this heartfelt, breezy, and funny story of starting over in Paris. Suzy had always fantasized about moving to Paris with her husband, but when he dies unexpectedly, she decides to fulfill their dream alone. Here she gives a deliciously conversational chronicle of her fir...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 31st 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 2004)
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Les Misérables by Victor HugoA Moveable Feast by Ernest HemingwayA Tale of Two Cities by Charles DickensMy Life in France by Julia ChildThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Books About Paris
124th out of 360 books — 398 voters
Entre Nous by Debra OllivierAll You Need to Be Impossibly French by Helena Frith PowellLessons From Madame Chic by Jennifer L. ScottOn Rue Tatin by Susan Herrmann LoomisWhat French Women Know  About Love, Sex and Other Matters of ... by Debra Ollivier
French Allure
11th out of 16 books — 5 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,789)
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Cate
Okay, okay. So I came upon this book in my house here that we rented out, so thankfully I never bought this piece of crap. I have to say that this may be the worst book I have ever read. I'm going to give out spoilers here cause I am hoping that you will never ever ever read this shitty book. I'm not even done with it, and I can tell you that no matter what happens, this book will never redeem itself. So, first off, this stupid book is based on an autobiography. Which means that this woman actua...more
Liz
Having grown up as an American in Paris, I thought I would find this look at French life from the perspective of an American interesting, but much of the book seems to be less about the woman's experience in France and with the French culture than it is about her shopping expeditions and minglings with socialite, both of which I found terribly boring and hard to relate to. I didn't even finish the book I was so bored. Good premise but this could have been a lot more.
Starr
I got this book because I gravitate towards stories about American women moving to Paris. I long to go to Paris and to read about the experiences of other women makes me feel as close to Paris as I'm going to get for now. The only problem is that no matter what the story is its always the story about an upper middle class or rich women moving to Paris after having been there several times for family vacations and business trips. I would really like to hear about a story where an "average" Americ...more
Karen
Jun 26, 2007 Karen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone
After reading several books on suicide and grief, being the surviving spouse of someone who had just recently ended their life, I felt I needed something light to read. Normally I read the back cover and the first few pages before buying a book, but in this case I didn't. I saw the cover, I love Paris, it looked like a light read. So I bought it, headed to the nearest coffee shop and settled in to read some fluff. Imagine my surprise when on the first page I read that she moved to Paris after th...more
Sherry
42. "Bestselling writer Suzy Gershman (dubbed "Super Shopper Suzy" by Oprah) is our answer to Peter Mayle in this heartfelt, breezy, and funny story of starting over in Paris. Suzy had always fantasized about moving to Paris with her husband, but when he dies unexpectedly, she decides to fulfill their dream alone. Here she gives a deliciously conversational chronicle of her first year in Paris and of the dizzying delights and maddening frustrations of learning to be a Parisian. Filled with Gersh...more
Olga
This is one of the books I found through PaperBack Swap recommendations after reading Entre Nous and giddily requested it hoping for a similarly pleasant experience. It was tough going at first. By page 70 I was thoroughly annoyed with Ms. Gershman because at that point the book read more like a shopping instruction manual with endless mentions of Born to Shop and incessant dropping of names of famous people and brands that began bordering in pretentious. "Is this really who you are, Suzy?" I ke...more
Book Him Danno
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kristine
I picked this up at a used book store after visiting my daughter in France while she was studying there for a semester. I liked how the author explained her experiences moving to Paris and how she was able to set up a new life in a country that chooses to live a slower pace with different priorities than those the author was used to in America. What I didn't like was her attitude about dead husband and the freedom she now had to make her own choices. I found myself wincing at times after reading...more
Jodi
51 year old widow moves to paris.....the book is about her first year living there and all the problems she encounters. It's a true story and I had a hard time liking her. At times I felt she was very negative about not only the French culture but others as well. Also, she was able to move to Paris because she had a hefty life insurance policy from the death of her husband. Having been to Paris several times I was able to re-live some of the lovely streets and cafes she talks about which for me...more
Melissa Hale
I enjoyed this book about an American woman who moved to Paris after her husband died. It's autobiographical and filled with fabulously shallow observations. The author writes a series of books called Born to Shop so shopping is obviously important to her. Name dropping of all the wonderful important people she knows and comparisons between America and France are frequent. Still, I enjoyed it for a light read about starting a new life in France.
Babs
An American in Paris. Well, that story has been done many times, obviously. But Gershman, writing of her first year living in Paris after her husband' death, is likeable. There is nothing original or wowing here, but if you like this genre, the book is a quick, enjoyable read.
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Funny and sassy. A widow makes a new life for herself in the City of Light.
Joy
Jul 05, 2010 Joy marked it as to-read
Shelves: memoir, i-love-paris
This book intrigues me since I just was in Paris recently...
Christen
3 1/2 stars. This was a very eye-opening book. There are definitely some good things about living in Paris/France, but there are also some very odd things and I do NOT think I am someone who could live there. I was quite shocked by how difficult it can be to "live" full time in another country. I was also surprised to learn that if you become a full time resident in another country, you can only visit the US for 30 days a year! But I enjoyed her personal story and it is a must-read for anybody t...more
Marti
I'm not sure why I have this fascination for France (Paris, for the most part) as most of my ancestors came from Ireland. Yet, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore my growing pile of books on this subject, the latest being C'est La Vie by Suzy Gershman. To be honest, my intention was to multitask and read about both Paris and shopping (Ms. Gershman authors the "Born To Shop" series of books) but I ended up immersed in the year of her life following her husband's death. She moves to Pa...more
Helynne
Although I have read many recent books of this genre—American woman discovers the delights and frustrations of cultural difference between the U.S. and France—I found this memoire particularly informative. Suzy Gershman describes the real nitty-gritty details of everyday Parisian life and how it can captivate, but also really bowl over the best-intentioned Yankee gal. When Gershman, a traveling contributor to Born to Shop, is suddenly widowed at age 50, she indulges in a longtime dream to live i...more
Methodtomadness
If you're considering moving to Paris, skimming this would at least give you some idea of what you're up against in terms of finding an apartment, bringing vs. buying household goods, and otherwise settling in. If, however, you're looking for much of a narrative, give this one a pass. The one -- one! -- salient, life-lessonish take-away point from this book seems to be: "Ladies, if you can afford it, and find yourself widowed later in life, France can be a more welcoming and intellectually stimu...more
Christine
BIG disappointment. I was hoping for something cute, along the lines of French Impressions, but I was mistaken. This book is a biography written by the woman who writes the Born to Shop series (never heard of personally, but I may be the only one). She is widowed suddenly and decides to follow her dream of moving to Paris for a year. Her adjustment to French culture and experience trying to find/rent/furnish an apartment are pretty interesting. That is, until she also decides it is fashionable a...more
Jennifer
I really enjoyed this book, especially the anecdotes and nuances the author uses to explain her first year of living in France. Her story is quaint, which is nice in my opinion, and I now have an urge to visit France again and spend time doing non-touristy things in Paris.

That said, the author seems to repeat herself a lot, which is a bit annoying. Either she thinks her readers won't remember a person she has mentioned two pages prior, or her editors aren't very good at their jobs. She also see...more
Laura Schmidt
I got this for an American perspective of Parisian/French way of life...I'm be going around France for my honeymoon this summer and thought it'd be a good insight. Slightly silly that the author goes on about name-dropping and being fashionable and spending an insane amount of money on linens (it all makes me think her more-than-slightly absurd). But she did just lose her husband and was trying to make a new start for herself- hence the reason of moving to Paris- to age gracefully and to be cher...more
Andrienne
Finally finished this book even though I've had it for a while. I was sick in bed and I wanted to escape somewhere...to France! The main character is in her 50s and so I wasn't too eager to read this memoir of sorts. I did find her tips very useful -- from leasing a home to where to scour cheap furnishings all over France. I've never heard of her "Born to shop" series and actually, a quick peek in Amazon show less than stellar reviews. But anyway, I found myself really immersed in all the highs...more
Susanna
This is a book badly in need of an editor. I mean: YIKES. It remains worth reading for its practical value--if you're moving to Paris, for instance. And it's interesting for its cultural revelations, and certainly contains some fun and funny anecdotes, but all without benefit of anything resembling flow. It's as if the author published a succession of journal entries without adding transitions. The bullet points throughout have real promise for fun narrative and just cause the reader to stumble...more
Tammy
A quick, light read but not deep or meaningful in any way. Too much focus on her personally to be a good travel book, but much too shallow about her life to be a good memoir. I have no idea how she truly felt about losing her husband because it's so glossed over. I also have no idea what it's like to be an average American living in Paris because she only writes about the life of a wealthy American with all sorts of connections to the "it" crowd -- fine if you are one, but not easy to relate to....more
Catherine
Suzy Gershman becomes a widow, sends her son off to college, and decides to pick up and move to France for a year to "get it out of her system." She writes of her process of learning about the French bureaucratic system, developing new friendships and shares her appreciation of the culture and country. She begins dating six months after her husband's death…with a married man. She romanticizes being a mistress and explains it away by writing, "All Frenchmen have mistresses." There was a little to...more
Kate
Dec 17, 2013 Kate rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
I wanted so much to like this book. I adore Paris, and it is my dream to retire there, so reading the story of a woman who moves there in her middle age from Massachusetts seemed like a perfect fit for me.

And yet, this book is very trying. Gershman is the CEO/founder of Born to Shop, which is essentially a run down of all the best shopping, city by city. As such, so much of this book is consumed with shopping: what she bought, where she bought it, how much she paid. The part about making friends...more
Jay Nesheim
I enjoyed this as a lighter summer read. I love Paris and think that moving there later in life is something many folks think would be an amazing experience but who actually DOES that!? Suzy Gershman does. The book is a little bit dated since it is from 2004 but just an interesting, sweet account of completely changing one's life for the 'second act.'
Annmarie
Pretty good memoir about a middle aged American woman whose husband dies unexpectedly, and so she is spurred to fulfill a lifelong dream of living in Paris. Eventually she purchases a residence there - it'd be a pretty good place to grow old, she feels. It's fun reading along with her as she struggles to get used to her new life and furnish her new place, and since she is a very social person, also meeting (on paper) the new people she befriends including a new elderly romantic interest nickname...more
Chelle
This was one of the most obnoxious, self-indulgent books I have EVER suffered through. Were it not for the fact that this was a book club choice - and I felt honor-bound to finish it - I would have happily quit after the first few chapters.

The premise seemed interesting: after her husband's death, the author moves to Paris for a change of scenery. Based on the title, I expected some funny American-in-France stories and some anecdotes about her emotional recovery. Not overly philosophical, but s...more
Angi
Unfortunately, this book just wasn't what I was hoping for. I think that someone who is actually moving to Paris would find this book much more helpful as it is basically a guide book written in a different form. There was a lot (A LOT) of information about finding an apartment, what to expect, what to do (and not do), etc. There was also a lot about buying items, what is cheaper in America than in Paris, etc. I was hoping to live vicariously through the author, but I was rather bored and after...more
Tania
quotes#047793

I often had to force myself to one more party or one more dinner, when all I really wanted was to stay home and watch TV. I went out only because I heard the memory of my mother's voice ringing in my brain, an echo from when I was twenty-two years old: "No one ever met anyone while sitting at home reading a book." p61
[but reading a book sure is fun]

I took his wedding ring from his left hand, removed my wedding ring from my left hand and switched both of them over to my right hand t...more
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