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French By Heart: An American Family's Adventures in La Belle France
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French By Heart: An American Family's Adventures in La Belle France

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  422 ratings  ·  95 reviews
Can a family of five from deep in the heart of Dixie find happiness smack dab in the middle of France?

French By Heart is the story of an all-American family pulling up stakes and finding a new home in Clermont-Ferrand, a city four hours south of Paris known more for its smoke-spitting factories and car dealerships than for its location in the Auvergne, the lush heartland o
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 24th 2007 by Broadway Books (first published 2007)
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Community Reviews

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I have to agree with Amplotkin about this book. I really, really wanted to love this book. It's about what I've always dreamed of - going to live in France, or Italy or best of all, England. It's one of my favorite genres and I really liked most of the characters a lot. The husband is a bit of a cipher, but everyone is likable and interesting. So why didn't I like it more? I just never got a true 'French' feel from the book. There didn't seem to be any true viewpoint. They could have been living ...more
Jan 22, 2010 Erin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: france
This is a sweet, if somewhat unsubstantial, book about a family who moves from South Carolina to central France. Becky and Todd Ramsey take advantage of a corporate relocation and settle their three young children in Clermont-Ferrand, an industrial town several hours south of Paris. The book tells tales of their four years in this region. There are many fish out of water experiences (Becky doesn't understand the local banks and the local schools, she bungles French expressions and is scandalized ...more
I picked up this book thinking it would confirm my romantic views of life in the French countryside. It did and it didn't. And I loved it. I like that Rebecca Ramsey is honest and doesn't try to sugarcoat anything. Life as an expat isn't everything it's cracked up to be. I would make a comment about Hemingway but since I haven't read any of his stuff yet it would only be gossip and I gave up gossip for Lent. :]

Each chapter stands on its own as a brief and insightful essay. It's a great style for
I was hoping for more. It seems almost the entire book is about Ramsey's spéciale neighbor, Madame Mallet. Ramsey seemed too preoccupied with this lady and what she thought of her. There's all of France to enjoy, and she keeps going on about her neighbor? Disappointing.
I absolutely LOVED this little memoir!
The Ramseys are moving to France. The family is from South Carolina and has always wanted to move. Not just visit, but move. The kids will go to French schools, they will live French lives, have French friends, the whole kitten caboodle.

And so off they go. The author writes of her family's many experiences and adventures over the four years the family lives in a small town about 4 hours south of Paris. Some are funny, some hurtful and depressing, others uplifting and heartfelt. Through it all th
Apr 19, 2013 Dianne rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
The authour and her family (husband, 9 yr. old daughter, 7 yr. old son, infant son, and cat) packed up and moved to France for four years when her husband accepted a transfer with his company. They started out in an apartment, then found a house where they could settle down and start their new lives as foreigners trying their best to fit in.

I loved hearing all the details of their daily lives as they adjusted to a new culture. Everything they had taken for granted in their previous lives became
This was a light and entertaining read that follows the model of the well-meaning fish-out-of-water foreigner trying to surmount the language and cultural barrier. The best of its kind may be David Sedaris's Me Talk Pretty One Day. Though it's hard to top Sedaris and this is a familiar formula, there are quite a few authors (including this one) that still manage to please and amuse and keep everything fresh. Other successes include Paris to the Moon, Beppe Severigni's Ciao, America, A Year in th ...more
I really enjoyed reading this! It was a quick, light read and made me want to hop a plane with my family and settle somewhere else in the world for a few years (I confess, that has always been a dream to live somewhere else for a year or two). It's the true story of a southern family moving to France, to a village south of Paris, for 4 years. They rent a home, go to French schools, learn to navigate the culture and life, with mishaps here and there. I loved how honest the author was! She is a gr ...more
Out of all the expats-in-France books I've ever read, this one is probably the most disappointing. I mean, is she even really trying? It doesn't seem like she tried very hard to find much out about France before her family moved there -- some of the things that surprised her were ideas that I'd come across in various books about France before. Add her somewhat gleeful ignorance about France to a marked hesitance to get too introspective, and there's just not enough here to be interesting.

Then Ma
Becky Ramsey realizes a lifelong dream when she moves her young family from South Carolina to central France. This book is a chronicle of their four years in Clermont-Ferrand where her husband works for Michelin. Happily for the reader, she includes her most embarrassing moments, frustrations with French films, meddling neighbors, and the difficulty of making real friends with French people. While often hilarious, her stories illustrate all too well how hard it is to be a foreigner in France. Li ...more
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Glennie Woodrum
A delightful and entertaining read for any Francophile from South Carolina. A very honest and open telling of the life led for the years this family spent in France. An enjoyable, light read.
Saw this book on the shelf at Barnes and Noble, and put it on hold at the library. Seemed custom-written for me; expatriate family learning their way around France. And yes, it was interesting, and a pretty quick read. It just didn't catch my attention in much of the same way that some others in this genre did. Maybe it was the big expatriate community that the author had to fall back on, although they didn't live right in the midst of an english-speaking group. The most interesting bits were ab ...more
Summer reading for French, I loved it as usual! Very cute little stories about France and life there. Reading this book made me want to try living there. Haha, it also made me wish I had friends by the French standard. I read this while on vacation, it was funny because we came across so many French people! I was so aware of being American, I felt just like Mme Ramsey! I was just happy that I hadn't worn any white tennis shoes...
The Katie
Jul 17, 2007 The Katie rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People who like France or Stranger in a Strange Land books
I just finished reading this book and I quite enjoyed it. I have to say that as a genre I really like "Stranger in a Strange Land" types of books.

This book, about Rebecca Ramsey and her family's 4 year stint in Auvergne in France is great. Sometimes I feel too many stories revolve around the crotchety neighbor Madame Mallet. Some of the anecdotal stories though are very funny and leave wild mental images in your head such as how to help little 3 year old girl take a wee at a farm.
Not bad, not bad....not the most thrilling book about fact, if you want to learn about France, this is not the book. It is more a book about living abroad and the random things that happen. The author and her family move to Clermont-Ferrand....and this book describes their four years and the adventures (especially with the nextdoor neighbor).

She loves France....and tells the truth, unlike a lot of anglophiles who try to make France sound horrible/perfect.
I enjoy travel memoirs and this was an easy one to read while on vacation in Washington state. It traces a family's adjustment to life in France over a 4-year period. When her husband is transferred by his employer, Michelin, wife Rebecca Ramsey leaves her life in NC for a life in France, with 3 children (one, a baby) in tow! The memoir centers mostly on the children's adjustments and the eccentric neighbors in their new town. A fun, if light travel memoir.
Rosie Beck
A family of five from the heart of Dixie moves to a small town in France for four years (husband's job). It is a charming look at life in belle France with the quirky, nosy neighbor Madame, the schools that seem to do their job but take no prisoners, the stores where you look at the pictures on the food to figure out what it could be, and trying to speak French with a decided drawl. Not earth shattering info, but a quick cozy read.
Greatly enjoyed this book and hope this author goes on to write and/or has written more: I think she is talented! Her family moves to an industrial town in France when her husband's job at Michelin is transferred there for four years. This series of vignettes (roughly chronological) trace their funny introduction to French ways of living, as they gradually become more and more assimilated into life in the town.
Jan Kristal
A good book for Francophiles. A family of five moves to France when Dad gets transfered to the Michelin Company there. Although it's always been Mom's dream to live in France, she soon sees the cultural differences and realizes fitting in isn't always easy. Their adventures while learning the language, experienceing the culture, and and getting to know and understand the people make for a light, but fun read.
I almost hated to give this a two since Rebecca seems to be a good writer. It is just that living in France seemed to her like she moved to the next county. She became obsessed with the old lady next door and seemed to spend very little time exploring France and the different culture. At least she figured out that wearing white tennis shoes would be weird in France. I bet she was happy to get back home.
Julie Mendel
Initially I did not think I would enjoy it too much but it is the book club selection for February so I decided to sit down and get through it. I was pleasantly surprised at what a light hearted and quick read the book really was. It is a memoir of a family's struggles with adapting to a new life, meeting new friends and generally surviving living in a foreign country.
MaryBeth Donnelly
Aug 18, 2007 MaryBeth Donnelly rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: travelers, moms
I love any kind of book that gives a little insight into different cultures and portrayals of family life, especially if it includes a bit of humor . French by Heart does all three. The author and her young family move to France for 4 years (husband's job) and each chapter deals with an anecdote of their time there. A good, interesting, read.
Lovely simple American family uprooted to a suburb of Paris as husband continues to climb the corporate ladder at Michelin Tires. The children acclimate; the mother struggles with the language; the children are amused! You know when you've been accepted when your French neighbors laugh out loud and allow you to use their first names!
This was written by a very intelligent woman who followed her husband's career path to Clermont-Ferrand, France. These are absolutely true and accurate accounts of how wonderful french people can be when you meet them on their own terms and turf. It was certainly not easy, as you can see, but then nothing worthwhile ever is.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
A job transfer sends Ramsey and her husband and three young children off to France. The countryside is beautiful, but the people are…well, irascible. Her new neighbors drive her insane with her meddlesomeness. And yet Ramsey learns to love this new world, even the irritating intrusiveness of her neighbors.

Jul 27, 2007 Lori rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: women with wanderlust
I have a strong desire to pack up my family and move to France or England. So, when I saw this book about a women who did just that, I had to read it. It did not disappoint and addressed all of my concerns about moving to another country. Did it put my fears at ease? Not really, but I really related to the author.
A story about a Southern family of five who move to Southern France for four years. Very witty, Rebecca Ramsey makes us fall in love with the old bat who lives next door. She is adept at pointing out differences in cultures without making one seem better than the other. Quite good and an easy read.
I didn't LOVE this book, but I thought it was a cute read. I thought the beginning started out great, and then it just kind of rushed the story a bit. And on top of that, I didn't really know where it was going. But overall, if you're looking for a quick, cute, enjoyable read, I would recommend.
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South Carolina soccer mom meets life in France. 1 3 Aug 18, 2007 06:44PM  
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