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Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris

3.67  ·  Rating Details ·  11,214 Ratings  ·  797 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
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 3rd 2004 by Avery (first published January 1st 2003)
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Aug 29, 2007 Lolab rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 19, 2012 Alanna rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, kill-me-now
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
Mar 11, 2010 Nikki rated it really liked it
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
Sarah Hine
Jun 15, 2008 Sarah Hine rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 01, 2009 Elizabeth rated it liked it
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
Oct 29, 2011 Jill rated it really liked it
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
Apr 18, 2014 Haley rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
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
Rebekah O'Dell
Jan 22, 2011 Rebekah O'Dell rated it it was ok
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
Fran Babij
Dec 27, 2007 Fran Babij rated it really liked it
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
Mar 19, 2009 Beejay rated it really liked it
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.
Sep 08, 2007 Emily rated it it was ok
Shelves: travel_books
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.
Aug 03, 2007 Jenny rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Hmm. Okay. I'd been looking forward to this one for a while—I am perfectly happy to romanticise the idea of picking up and moving halfway across the world on a whim; ideally, I'd like to do the same when I finish grad school (minus the whim part). Turnbull is wonderfully descriptive about life in France, too: this isn't the sort of book where Paris is vaguely in the background. She's in Paris. Improving her language skills by leaps and bounds. Adapting to French ways of eating and socialising.

3.5 Stars

I have an embarrassing predilection for books describing the ingenue immersion into Parisian life. When I see the cover with a french scene on the bookstore shelf, I can't refrain from picking it up and buying it. And they are generally horrible drivel.

But this one was refreshingly intelligent. Sure, Sarah begins the book with a fair amount of complaining about her perceived difficulties, but I began to realize I would probably be doing my own fair share were I in the same circumstances
Apr 16, 2008 Jen rated it really liked it
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
Sep 13, 2008 Jenna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel-writing
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.
Apr 15, 2012 Diane rated it did not like it
Shelves: others
This is a story of a Journalist - from Australia - Sarah Turnbull who, acting on impulse visits Frederic in Paris for a week, and fall's in love............
This is a book which I cannot leave much of a rating as I only read the first two chapters. I just could not read anymore, BORING is an understatement and the fact that I just could not "get into". Off to the charity shop this book goes in the hope the hope that it may bring pleasure to someone else, but definitely not me !!
May 15, 2009 Helynne rated it really liked it
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
Feb 14, 2012 Ashley rated it it was ok
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
Jan 03, 2010 Anne rated it liked it
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
Dec 10, 2009 kingshearte rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
"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
Aug 19, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it
This books is really lovely. It is told in little vignettes of life in Paris, especially compared to life in Anglo-Saxon areas (specifically Australia). As a journalist stationed in Paris, Sarah lots of chances to experience lots of very "french" things for the sake of journalism- she goes to haute couture fashion shows, she dines at one of Paris's most celebrated restaurants, she takes her dog to a puppy salon. At the same time, she has many normal human disasters, homesickness, and faux pax. T ...more
Banafsheh Serov
Mar 08, 2011 Banafsheh Serov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 17, 2012 Tiffany rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 22, 2010 Crystal rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Carinya Kappler
May 17, 2015 Carinya Kappler rated it it was ok
Almost French has defeated me twice! I have endeavored to immerse myself in this narrative for the second time and have come to the realisation that I am unable to align myself to a successful degree with the hero (who is in this case also the author). In order that I might feel sympathic or interested in her struggles to integrate herself into French, and particularly Parisian, society I firstly need to see that world through her eyes.
This has been my stumbling block! Instincts that would tell
Jul 30, 2011 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: chicklit, travel
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
Jun 30, 2012 Tiffany rated it really liked it
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
May 14, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
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
Paddy Eger
Feb 26, 2015 Paddy Eger rated it really liked it
Sarah shares her day-to-day life as an ex-pat from Australia who falls in love with a French man and stays to make a life in Paris. She reveals how living in Paris vs. visiting Paris and lets us in on her experiences/encounters with French people about how she dresses, the food she buys and prepares for guests as well as how difficult it is to "break into" groupings of Parisian friends. You want her to succeed and feel her humiliation when she fails. Her determination exceeds what most of us wou ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Almost French by Sarah Turnbull 1 7 Mar 21, 2015 05:32PM  
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“It is a bitter-sweet thing, knowing two cultures. Once you leave your birthplace nothing is ever the same.” 16 likes
“Such is the nature of an expatriate life. Stripped of romance, perhaps that's what being an expat is all about: a sense of not wholly belonging. [...] The insider-outsider dichotomy gives life a degree of tension. Not of a needling, negative variety but rather a keep-on-your-toes sort of tension that can plunge or peak with sudden rushes of love or anger. Learning to recognise and interpret cultural behaviour is a vital step forward for expats anywhere, but it doesn't mean that you grow to appreciate all the differences.” 5 likes
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