Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris
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Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  7,724 ratings  ·  620 reviews
The charming true story of a spirited young woman who finds adventure--and the love of her life--in Paris. "This isn't like me. I'm not the sort of girl who crosses continents to meet up with a man she hardly knows. Paris hadn't even been part of my travel plan..."

A delightful, fresh twist on the travel memoir, Almost French takes us on a tour that is fraught with culture...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 3rd 2004 by Gotham (first published August 18th 2003)
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Lolab
The author, an Australian television journalist, on a whim, heads to Paris to stay with a man, a French lawyer, that she's met only twice. The book is billed as a love story, though we actually see very little of Frederic, her future husband, other than brief caricatured appearances - after picking her up at the airport, he effortlessly whips up an elegant lunch, setting the table with crystal knife rests and an antique silver bowl filled with flowers. While contemplating the opulent table setti...more
Nikki
Much, much better than the last book I read on Paris. The differences were that, in the last one, most of the major issues facing the author were because of her own stupidity. This one, she goes more into the major cultural differences that she found in the way the French live. Even though she was Australian, you could definitely relate to the Anglo-Saxon mindset she went to France with, which seems the same whether you are American, English, Canadian, or Australian. The same differences were th...more
Alanna
Oh dear god, can I really bring myself to write a review of this "book"? This has to be honest to goodness one of the worst pieces of "writing" I have ever had the misfortune to read. On so many levels.
Firstly, we are supposed to believe this person is a professional journalist. Well, she may be an author, but she's no writer. I think the editor just had too much work to do here and gave up. Commas, semi-colons, even full stops pose a problem. The perspective and the tense chop and change betwee...more
Sarah Hine
This book gets a big fat "eh" from me. I really WANTED to like it. It's a memoir of a young Australian woman (indeterminately aged) who moves to Paris to be with this guy and she ends up staying and discovering true French and Parisian culture. Sounds good, right?

I found it hard to identify with the author and never felt like I was close to her, truly understood where she was coming from, or found that she was particularly likable. All of which I think are important when reading a girly memoir....more
Elizabeth
Apr 01, 2009 Elizabeth rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Kirsten Dirksen
Kirsten gave this to me for the plane ride.

I enjoyed Turnbull's interpretation of life in France. I also liked how she was able to find a line between her own traditions and the traditions of her adopted home. It was refreshing to see that she neither tried to cling to heritage, nor entirely embrace her new location.

The one chapter that I didn't agree with was her section devoted to French women. She argued that their ways were uptight and unnatural. I've grown up with several French female re...more
Rebekah ODell
C’est vrai — I read a lot of memoirs about girls who move to Paris. I suppose it is just testament to some kind of universal dream that so many memoirs are written on the same subject, and yet I pick up all of them. To me, this is ultimate escapist reading.

Delightfully, this was my book club’s January pick … and I didn’t even pick it (though I might have advocated for it a little bit.)

There isn’t too much to tell by way of sheer plot that is original – Turnbull meets a dashing, eccentric Paris...more
Jill
Oct 29, 2011 Jill rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: expatriates, people in intercultural relationships, Francophiles
Recommended to Jill by: Beth
This story of an Australian woman who meets and falls in love with a Frenchman, almost immediately moving to Paris to live with him, is a great illustration of what it's like to be an ex-patriate (particularly coming from a country with a relatively short history and moving to a place with a deep and rich history). The culture clash is evident and reminded me of my own experience living in Japan (a place of long history filled with tradition) as an American (from a place with a much more heterog...more
Fran Babij
I really enjoyed this. It was pleasant and interesting reading and explained so many quirks about my own personality that I never realized were traits passed down from my predominantly Parisian, French family. Also made me glad I have enough Anglo-Saxon blood in me to balance it out. Surprisingly it also became the catalyst that made me decide to pick up my French lessons again after dropping them 20 years ago. Anyone looking for a TRUE inside view of French culture, both good and bad should rea...more
Jenny
Very repetitive, not very well-written, boring at times. I really wouldn't recommend this unless you are someone who is infatuated with Paris and Parisians, which I am not.
Haley
I'll grant you that the title of this one is a bit cheesy. Luckily the book itself was a different story.

Sarah Turnbull is a twenty-something Australian journalist who, upon taking a one year hiatus from her job to tour Europe, meets the Frenchman Frédéric, who unbeknownst to her, she would one day marry. Taking a bold risk, which she later claims was the result of following her heart and not her mind, she travels to Paris to stay with him for a week. She never looks back.

In the early years sh...more
Emily
I loved hearing about Paris from an Australian-born narrator, but I felt a real disconnect with the romance. She never really lets the reader in to hers and Frederic's romance -- I found this rather strange.
Banafsheh Serov
There is plenty we can learn from the French - appreciation of all things beautiful and how to avoid looking like a slob (apparently seeing someone who has not made an effort in dressing well is an assult to the French sensability). There is also a lot the French can learn from the rest of us -how to be inclusive and less hung up on all things French.

Light and fluffy like a soufle, Almost French documents the entertaining recollections of a young Sydney girl who falls in love with a 'very French...more
Crystal
This is the best I've read so far of the "moved-to-France-adjusting-to-cultural-differences" genre. Sarah, the Australian TV journalist, goes "walk-about" in Europe, meets a Frenchman in Romania, and then accepts an invitation from him to visit Paris. She goes and the rest is history, which this book chronicles. She covers the cuisine, the fashion, the dog mania, the trying to make friends, and many other situations. I particularly loved her description of the bafflement at going to a "party" wh...more
Tiffany
Oui, yet another addition to my obsession with books about Paris. I read this on the plane on my way home from Paris and it was like someone illuminated all of the cultural nuances that blindsided me. When you walk around Paris, the women look you up and down, sizing up your clothes, your hair, and your overall "je ne sais quoi." Sarah Turnbull explains Parisienne's insecurities about keeping their men and viewing foreign women as competition. Yikes! I also understood why my best friend and I re...more
Helynne
Australian journalist Sarah Turnbull took a big chance diving into French society the way she did--and it panned out! She had left her job as a television reporter in Sydney to travel around Europe for a year, and while in Bucharest, Romania, she met a charming Frenchman named Frederic. Though she didn't know Frederic very well yet, she accepted his invitation to come visit him in Paris, and right away, they began living together, and Turnbull began adapting to her new life of being "Almost Fre...more
Ashley
I love travel memoirs. I especially love travel memoirs when it's set in Paris, France. Which is why I was so surprised at how uninterested I became during my read through Almost French.

Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris is exactly how it sounds. A young woman in her late twenties settles down in Paris with a Frenchman on a whim. Triumphs and trials ensue. Learning the language, social differences and accepting her new, different life from Australia is of course difficult at first but...more
Erin
May 14, 2009 Erin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: france
Almost French tells the story of Sarah Turnbull, an Australian journalist who makes an impulsive decision to move to Paris after falling for a Frenchman while on assignment in Bucharest. This book chronicles her fish-out-of-water experience as an Aussie in Paris, and how she comes to love and appreciate this beautiful but frustrating city. As months stretch into years, Sarah delves deeper into the history and culture of Paris. She makes decisions about what she will and won't do to fit in with h...more
Rebecca
I loved this book!! I googled the author to see if she had written anymore books and she hasn't, which was annoying to find out! Girl from Australia is on her "year abroad" in in the early 1990's in Eastern Europe where she meets a Frenchmen and promptly drops everything and visits him in Paris and never leaves. I liked how dated this book was. There was hardly a mention of visa issues, which in today's world would annoy me, but since it takes place in the 90's, I got over it. Also, I am not usu...more
Eliza
4/24/11: Sarah Turnbull a young Australian journalist, comes to Paris to live with a French lawyer whom she'd fallen in love with. This is the story of the six years of her acculturation, which begins, well, inauspiciously, but ends up (not surprisingly) happily. The first half, the part where everything she tries to do seems like a failure, is accurate, and often hilarious, but also comes across as a bit whiny, superficial, and also repetitive.

But the second half gets more interesting, as the...more
Tiffany
This book touched a nerve with me. The book is written by an Australian journalist who meets a Frenchman on her year of European travel, and subsequently moves to Paris with him. Her expat viewpoint is at turns funny, sweet, and poignant. I found myself tearing up as she described her moments of feeling like she's not just living in another country, but possibly another planet. This is a book I would recommend to all expats and anyone who considers herself a Francophile.

"It's a bittersweet thin...more
kingshearte
"A delightful, fresh twist on the travel memoir, Almost French takes us on a tour that is fraught with culture clashes but rife with deadpan humor. Sarah Turnbull's stint in Paris was only supposed to last a week. Chance had brought Sarah and Frederic together in Bucharest, and on impulse she decided to take him up on his offer to visit him in the world's most romantic city. Sacrificing Vegemite for vichyssoise, the feisty Sydney journalist does her best to fit in, although her conversation, her...more
Jen
May 16, 2010 Jen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: travel
A longtime Francophile, I love these kinds of books. While Sarah Turnbull is Australian, some of her perspectives and thoughts are very American. It was fascinating to read how her thought processes and ideas slowly changed to reflect that of the French--or to at least understand French thinking. Some of the events she experiences are at once hilarious and humiliating, yet Sarah sticks it out, determined to remain in France with the man who drew her there--Frédéric.

As a reader, we see from Sarah...more
Anne
Sarah Turnbull is a journalist from Australia who meets an enchanting French gentleman at a party. Shortly thereafter, he invites her to visit him in Paris...and eight years later, she's still there. Almost French is Turnbull's foray into French society, and her exploration of how much one can and should give up in the name of love. As Turnbull learns a new language and tries to fit in with her boyfriend Fred's seemingly snooty friends, she also struggles to find herself in a foreign land where...more
Mozzarella
I loved this! Don't usually enjoy memoirs unless there's some "important" message, moral, etc. I laughed all the way through. I thought I knew enough French to get by, but after reading Turnbull's experiences, I have second, third, twentieth thoughts about trying out my French whenever I do take that dream trip to Paris and Provence. I was afraid when I started the book that it was more about her relationship and less about the country, but Turnbull was able to weave the personal with the "point...more
Jenna
I picked up this book as one of those buy 2 get one free deals at a Borders thinking oh what the heck it might be fun.

It was a great deal of fun looking at French society and culture through the eyes of an Australian journalist.

It is a rather whimsical decision that leads her to leave her life and move to France and I know that deep down most of us wish that we could be so daring.

I highly recommend it.
Beejay
As delicious as a mararoon from Laduree, and as charming as a canal-side village in Burgundy, for Francophiles forced to live so far away in the Antipodes, this lovely, oft-times hilarious, little book - taken, naturally, with a generous glass of red - provides a delightful interlude. Do yourself a favour, set yourself up with some wine, some cheese and just enjoy. Bon appetit.
Mary G
It took me a few chapters to warm up to this memoir, but I'm glad I persisted. Turnbull is a cheeky twenty-three year old Australian television journalist who takes a leave of absence intending to spend a year travelling the world. She meets Frederic, an art-loving Parisian lawyer while doing freelance work in Bucharest. Despite their short-lived relationship, he invites her to visit him in Paris when her assignment is finished. Although she has qualms and although France is not on her intended...more
Matt Bassett
'It was okay'

'Almost French' was recommended to me as 'essential reading for anyone going to live in France', so I approached it as someone interested in reading another perspective on moving to and living in Paris. This did mean that I was later slightly perturbed to discover that older editions of the book were subtitled 'Love and a New Life in Paris' and to read the glowing recommendation on the back cover from none other than Marie Claire magazine. A quick google shows that the tagline of ma...more
Natalie Allen
Sep 06, 2007 Natalie Allen rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to know the history of paris and read about a love story
This book is slow at times and doesn't always go into a lot of detail on this woman's relationship but it's about the author who moves to paris for a man and how she adapts to life in a strange country that's she's only visited a few times. Good love story as well as having a lot of history of paris incorporated into it...
Jenni
As the book is organized into chapters not really connected to each other, it's somewhat hard to rate the whole: some chapters I really liked due to the witty observations on cultural differences that I have also had to deal with while working with the French, whereas in some chapters, I was left feeling that the "problem" in the situation are not the French, but the author herself, who seems in all her Australianity sometimes unable to cope with cultural differences. She seems quick to put thin...more
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Other books about life in Paris? 10 119 Dec 28, 2013 11:13PM  
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“It is a bitter-sweet thing, knowing two cultures. Once you leave your birthplace nothing is ever the same.” 9 likes
“The trail of lime trees outside our building is still a public loo. …where else are they supposed to go to the toilet in a city where public toilets are about as common as UFO sightings?” (pp.281-82)” 5 likes
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