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I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany
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I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,672 Ratings  ·  220 Reviews
Tired of Provence in books, cuisine, and tablecloths? Exhausted from your armchair travels to Paris? Despairing of ever finding a place that speaks to you beyond reason? You are ripe for a journey to Brittany, where author Mark Greenside reluctantly travels, eats of the crêpes, and finds a second life.

When Mark Greenside -- a native New Yorker living in California, doubt
ebook, 224 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by Atria Books
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I can't resist reading about people who find themselves falling in love with another country and then bravely finding a way to live there (and here.) This book was entertaining, laugh out loud funny, and sweet. I enjoyed reading about Breton culture and watching Mark bumble his way through buying a house, redoing his floors, opening a bank account, trying to understand the French insurance system (which so totally beats ours), and attempting to learn the language. He is blessed with lovely neigh ...more
Aug 20, 2009 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I must confess that I do not read a lot of travel books, but I was impressed with I’ll Never be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany. Despite the lengthy title, the book is actually a rather brief literary romance between a man and his coastal French town. Against Greenside’s best efforts, he and a girlfriend plan a vacation to France. The relationship doesn’t last, but Greenside’s growing affection for Brittany and the populace does. In the rashest move of his for ...more
Glory Gray
Sep 07, 2012 Glory Gray rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of travel books
Recommended to Glory by: Librarian
I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do) Living in a Small Village in Brittany by Mark Greenside
I'm a big fan of Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes, so I will read just about any book with a similar theme. Mark Greenside writes from the point of view of a hapless, poor, single American male who is a bit in awe of small town France.

The scenes of miscommunication are particularly entertaining. In the end, we cheer for Mark and wonder if he'll successfully navigate this new world and its alien culture.

I enjoyed the descriptions of Brittany. He provided just enough to make me want to visit without
Jun 03, 2012 Brian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When you work in publishing, as I do, you have access to all kinds of books. A bunch end up on first-come, first-served shelves. Maybe they were sent for review to the wrong address. Maybe they two copies came for publicity purposes when only one would suffice. Some just arrive looking for a home.

I grabbed Mark Greenside’s book “I’ll Never be French (no matter what I do)” from a pile of very uninteresting books because it stood out. The bright red cover and witty title led me to discover a genre

Started out as a potentially enchanting book but just tripped over itself. I last studied French in high school so a lot of the French dialogue can only be appreciated by someone who knows French. And then there were parts in the story that just seemed missing.

I could understand why the author would want to skip over the ending of a relationship. How someone just finds himself buying a house in France confused me too. It just felt like a chapter was missing there.

Apr 19, 2013 Dianne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, travel
Mark Greenside was living with his girlfriend in New York when out of the blue she said to him: "Honey, let's go to France". He had been in France years earlier and it had not been a good experience, and he didn't speak French, so he wasn't thrilled with the idea. But she had answers for all his arguments and eventually she wore him down. They went to France - Brittany - for the summer. This is the story of how he fell in love with the country, bought a house and became a permanent part-time res ...more
Feb 03, 2009 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Julie by: Julia
Mark Greenside grudgingly agrees to spend a summer in a small town in Brittany with his girlfriend. He figures that Kathryn speaks French, and it will be a nice place for them both to write for a while. Their relationship falls apart, but by then he has made firm friendships despite his utter lack of linguistic ability, and he finds himself under the spell of the French way of doing things. Unfortunately, although he appreciates the French way, he finds himself making one inadvertent faux pas af ...more

Mildly entertaining and a fast read. The author spends a bit too much time wondering (and deciding for himself) what other people think of him. There were some bits which were quite funny, and you may learn a thing or two about the French, Bretons, and the differences between the two. A nice look at a part of France not often publicized in literature, but a beautiful part of France with its own unique customs. Wish I could live in Finistere too! Overall, a decent memoir about owning a home in a
Susan Bogart
Feb 23, 2009 Susan Bogart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who travels anywhere
Recommended to Susan by: New York Times Book Review
A thoroughly enjoyable book about an American in France--could have been very trite, but the author's self-deprecating comments and professed love of the lifestyle and people made me wish the bookhad been longer. He soundly lays waste to the idea that the French are cold, snobbish, and withdrawn. I loved his neighbors, the town, his wrestling with machinery and the language, his encounters with craftsmen, managing to avoid sentimentality throughout. His amazement at the practical, efficient, and ...more
Oct 24, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. It was fun, light, and made me want to live in France, or at least experience it. Finished this one a day after reading Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong, so it was fun to have the two parallel books, one very educational, the other anecdotal. Both enjoyable and interesting. For me in my nerdiness it is fun to read multiple books on the same topic. Wow. I should make some friends or something.

Definitely would suggest to anyone who wants to imagine living somewhere whimsica
Feb 03, 2015 Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed this book. Living in the US and then living in France, back and forth, made for some very funny and charming experiences. He was actually living in Brittany, which the French call Finistere (end of the earth) and the Bretons call Penn ar Bed (beginning of the world). I loved the storyline as much as I loved being able to read all the French parts! Very fun read.
Oct 19, 2009 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
A charming starting-over book, this time from the (rare) single male persective. I enjoyed his perspective on the rural French lifestyle and the simple trust that villagers put in each other, something missing in Greenside's California upbringing.

Laugh out loud in a few places, slight smile throughout, a very pleasant read.
Dec 01, 2009 Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another place on earth to visit on my "bucket list"! :) I'm going to need to hit the lottery!

Mark Greenside writes a hysterical memoir of living and loving Brittany. As a bumbling, fumbling middle-aged American man who is discovering a new world so unlike the one he has known.

Greg Rothenberger
Mar 06, 2015 Greg Rothenberger rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I've tried hard to think of a reason not to like this book. I've failed miserably. This story of an American who goes to the northwest of France with his girlfriend is just an ideal introduction to life as an expatriate in rural France. I was particularly interested in the differences between how the French see Americans and how they see the British. The book was well-written, with lots of anecdotes, and the characterizations were believable and enjoyable. Brittany itself makes for a nice change ...more
Oct 26, 2011 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this for my sister after I read it. I kept calling her up and reading her parts of it. So many enjoyable anecdotes. Really liked it.
Apr 16, 2009 Amanda rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Haw haw, the French are so different from us and I'm a bewildered American who can't get anything right and blah blah blah blah. UGH.
Wojtek Czacharowski
Książka napisana ze swadą, humorem i lekkim piórem. Czyta się dobrze, i z pewnym zaskoczeniem zauważamy że właśnie niepostrzeżenie doczytaliśmy do końca. Książka na poprawę nastroju. Jednak przede wszystkim dająca do myślenia - czy czasem nie warto zmienić punktu siedzenia, aby mieć możliwość zmiany punktu widzenia. Autor znalazł się w całkowicie obcym dla siebie świecie i ... w pełni się odnalazł. To opowieść o tym jak można zmienić swoje życie i być z tego zadowolonym, mimo nieustającego zadzi ...more
Aug 25, 2010 Isabella rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: documentaire
C'est l'histoire d'un américain qui vient passer des vacances en Bretagne. Il décrit les us et coutumes français à travers son regard d'américain. Autant vous dire que c'est très drôle.
Il met l'accent sur les différences entre nos deux pays, dans un grand respect, ce qui rend la lecture agréable. Et notre orgueil de français est remonté à bloc parce qu'au final, il tombe amoureux de la Bretagne et y achète une maison.

Il s'agit donc d'un livre très intéressant et drôle avec lequel j'ai passé un a
Jenny Gendel
Apr 09, 2011 Jenny Gendel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-narrative
Mark Greenside is HILARIOUS. This book reminds me of I'm a Stranger Here Myself: Notes on Returning to America After 20 Years Away byBill Bryson. It craked me up so hard, I had tears in my eyes. I started this book at about 8pm or so on Friday night and read straight through in to Saturday morning. Can't say enough about a book that got me to stay up until 1:29 am just to see what FUNNY thing happens next, but this one did, and I'm grateful. He and others like him (including the aformentioned Bi ...more
Jack Rochester
Jul 30, 2012 Jack Rochester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald's wry comment about the rich being different from the rest of us, the experiences and adventures of humans in middle age differ from those of our youthful days. For one thing, we know ourselves better and are more resilient to change, perhaps more forgiving. For another, we don't take it all so seriously. That wisdom is the great gift Mark Greenside shares with us in this delightful book. Whether or not we've had the same experiences as he, we can follow along w ...more
Aug 10, 2011 Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After returning home from a trip to Paris, I was itching to get a taste of France and it seemed a good time to pull this down from the "to read" stack. Despite considerable protest, Greenside travels with his girlfriend to Brittany and though the romance fades, he falls hard for the town of Finistère. Completely different than his native California, Greenside never really tries to blend, but appreciates his experiences and encounters for the enrichment they bring to his life. For fans of Peter M ...more
Mary Lou
Mar 27, 2016 Mary Lou rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author is quite cynical and passive-aggressive towards others (mainly conservatives or the religious) who don't believe exactly as he does. It's subtle, but there are snide remarks throughout the book. He will have you believe at the end of each chapter though that thanks to the grace and kindness of others, he has become a better man. To think he's a college professor... I sure wouldn't want him shaping my youth's mind....the story itself is okay. It's Mark I couldn't stomach.
Pierced Librarian
Jun 24, 2014 Pierced Librarian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mark Greenside goes to France with a girlfriend for a summer of writing.

Instead he falls out of love with the girlfriend, falls in love with France, and ends up buying a home.

Having lived, not visited, not stayed in a hostel or slept on a friends couch, but rented a house and dealt with bureaucracy and insanity of paying bills and buying food in a foreign country- I can say that Mark nailed the entire experience.

Great story, and now I want to move to France.

Sep 21, 2015 D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, if you've lived in France, but we found the Bretons hard to penetrate, even with ancestry (St Pol-de-Leon & Roscoff) clearly evident from a quick look at the names in the phone directory (and in the local bar.) Being taken for Brits was probably the problem... no matter that we speak French and identify ourselves as Californians which works well in other areas. The book is fun if you have some French connection, but didn't intrigue me as a piece of literature.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Ah! I’ve been dreaming of reading a moving-and-starting-over book for ages and, at last, one arrives. I liked this book, too. Greenside has just the right mix of enchantment and perplexity with the French that makes for a lovely story.

Greenside comes to France with a girlfriend but the trip is not a happy one for the couple; they break up and everyone looks set to go home. Yet something about the village in Brittany makes him fall in love with the place and, before he knows it, he has borrowed
Terri Lynn
Apr 21, 2015 Terri Lynn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
This is positively delightful! Mark reluctantly followed a girlfriend to France, lost the girl, but fell in love with a small French town in Brittany and before the end of the book was a home and car owner and had a bunch of French friends of all ages. Unlike those books that make the French out to be rude and unfriendly, the author shows the real France and the real French- for those who bother to get to really know them.
Lisa Burrow
May 26, 2016 Lisa Burrow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book its hilarious! and the thing I admire most about this writer is his ability to laugh at himself. He tries hard and gets it so wrong like we all would but he recovers so well and still manages to maintain some dignity in the process. I love the way the tradesmen take his hand and lead him to the task at hand. Brilliant read from start to finish.
Jun 17, 2015 Jennifer rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Couldn't finish it. He has to borrow money from his mother to buy a house...he is in his fifties!!! This book was self-indulgent non-sense and there is no real plot.

The sketches of Brittany are interesting, but not enough to off-set this man's insulting religious opinions and pathetic milking of his mother for money.
Mar 17, 2015 Ceci rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have ever traveled in France....if you have attempted to speak French in France....if you have ever tried to fit in and "act French" - you will love this book. The author nails the experience. And his rendition of his imperfect French is absolutely hilarious. If you are a francophile, READ THIS!
Mar 13, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just love reading about people who move to another country and write about their adventures there. Mostly because someday I want to do that. Author Mark Greenside is a lovely writer who wrote optimistically about his experiences in Brittany, France. Greenside sprinkles a little bit of French here an there throughout his book, and because I don't speak a lick of French, I recruited my Canadian French-speaking husband to read to me. (Swoon!) Of particular note, was the reminder to me that we Ame ...more
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Mark Greenside holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin. He has been a civil rights activist, Vietnam War protestor, anti-draft counselor, Vista Volunteer, union leader, and college professor. His stories have appeared in The Sun, The Literary Review, Cimarron Review, The Nebraska Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, The New Laurel Review, Crosscurrents, Five Fingers Review, and The ...more
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