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

3.44  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,461 Ratings  ·  159 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
142nd out of 455 books — 473 voters
From Paris to Eternity by Clio FreyaDie for Me by Amy PlumA Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel SchwarzConfessions of a Paris Party Girl by Vicki LesageWeekend in Paris by Robyn Sisman
Eiffel Tower on the Cover
29th out of 70 books — 52 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jun 05, 2011 Cate rated it did not like it
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
Jun 30, 2008 Liz rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 16, 2012 Starr rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 26, 2007 Karen rated it really liked it
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
Jul 05, 2007 Sherry rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2006-2010
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
Oct 11, 2014 Marti rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 28, 2012 Olga rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
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
Feb 17, 2011 Book Him Danno rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 24, 2009 Angi rated it it was ok
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
Sep 25, 2012 Kristine rated it liked it
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
May 04, 2015 Tima rated it really liked it
I liked this book because it was like taking a trip to France! An interesting read for someone who has ever considered or wondered what it would be like to live in Paris.
Sep 09, 2013 Jodi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 26, 2009 Melissa Hale rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 19, 2009 Babs rated it liked it
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.
Rachel H
Apr 05, 2016 Rachel H rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2016
So I made it through half this book and considered putting it down and not picking it up again. But part of me thought "I've already made it this far," so I kept at it.
I picked this book up initially because I love France, and "normal person moves to Paris" seemed like a fun storyline. But instead, she's an upper-strata, hangs-out-with-diplomats and shops-for-a-living kind of person. I'm really not very interested in how much bed linens cost in France, and that seems to be the main content of th
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Funny and sassy. A widow makes a new life for herself in the City of Light.
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...
May 15, 2013 Sharon rated it it was amazing
Excellent! Entertaining and informative. Great, effortless writer.
Jun 21, 2015 M rated it did not like it
Conventional wisdom suggests that one not make any hasty decisions for at least a year after experiencing significant loss. Gershman waited six weeks to cash in her husband's life insurance proceeds and jet off to begin a new life in Paris. Well, at least she waited six months to enter into a lusty affair with a French "count" as his mistress, because it is a French thing. Aside from a few helpful hints about setting up a new household, this book appeared to be a self-absorbed romp with name-dro ...more
Aug 28, 2014 Christen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Mar 21, 2016 Danielle rated it did not like it
I love reading books about Paris, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, so Suzy Gershman's book caught my eye. Unfortunately, the book did not live up to my expectations. Suzy really just does not come across as likable. First of all, she seems quite self-centered. Her husband dies and just after, she picks up her life and basically moves to Paris (she claims that it was only for a year, even though she knows it's not even before she leaves the States). She seems to ignore the fact that her son ...more
Feb 02, 2011 Helynne rated it really liked it
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
Aug 05, 2011 Methodtomadness rated it it was ok
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
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
Mar 18, 2009 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-writing
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
Laura Schmidt
Jun 12, 2008 Laura Schmidt rated it liked it
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
Finally finished this book even though I've had it for a while. I was sick in bed and I wanted to escape 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
Oct 16, 2011 Susanna rated it did not like it
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
Aug 07, 2012 Tammy rated it liked it
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
Oct 02, 2007 Catherine rated it really liked it
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
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