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Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  745 Ratings  ·  84 Reviews
Based on the popular blog ( and newsletter with thousands of subscribers -- a heart-winning collection from an American woman raising two very French children with her French husband in Provence, carrying on a lifelong love affair with the language. Imagine a former French major getting vocabulary tips from her young children! That was the experience ...more
Hardcover, 284 pages
Published April 25th 2006 by Touchstone Books
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Jun 19, 2008 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, french
After fourteen years of German, two here and two there of Spanish, and three self-taught years of Russian in college, I came to realize that my heart wanted me to be learning French. (Don't even begin to rationalize with me about the necessity of some of these languages.)

I followed Ms. Espinasse's blog for a couple of years. Her book reads just the same: like a "Word-A-Day" calender, only filled with charming insights and experiences pertaining to each entry.

As I read and reread each new term tr
May 08, 2008 Anna-Liisa rated it really liked it
I quite enjoyed this book even though it took me a while to finish it because I started other books at the same time. :) I loved that the chapters, which are really just a story from the authors life that has to do with a French word she picked as the title, were short. This mean that I could pick it up anytime and just read a few pages, which came in handy when work was slow. Having lived in other countries I was interested to hear another Americans expat experiences, especially in a place like ...more
Apr 28, 2008 Holly rated it it was ok
This marks the second time I've tried to read this book and not quite made it to the finish line. I wanted badly to love this book because I usually love stories of Americans living in foreign countries and because I think Kristin Espinasse seems a likable lady.

Ultimately, you can tell this book began life as a blog because it still reads like a blog. A charming one, but one that I'm not particularly interested in after the first blush has worn off. Also, I'm not nearly as enamored of all thing
Nov 20, 2010 Lesley rated it liked it
I enjoyed this read of Kristin's life, especially since I am also an American who relocated to a foreign country for love. While I didn't have to learn a new language in my situation, I adore French and took it through all levels of school. I ended up in Canada, where it was the 2nd national language, which further fueled my passion for the language. I felt like Kristin's book was a peek into everyday life in France, somewhere I've always wanted to go, and I would daydream of a vacation in the g ...more
Apr 09, 2008 Jessica rated it did not like it
I'm not kidding, I've been "reading" this book for about two years. It's really kind of awful. But I'm one of those "can't not finish" people. So it sits on my night stand. For eternity. And every once in a while, I pick it up, read a few pages, and remember why it's really quite terrible. And then wait another six months before reading the next three pages. It's kind of like ripping off a band-aid one centimeter at a time.

I gave up. When I moved, it didn't.
Jun 05, 2013 Duncan rated it really liked it
This is a compilation of her word a day blog, snapshots of her expat life in the south of France. They are perfect for me, a sort-of reader of French, and provide an enchanting depiction of the day to day in an essentially rural, though civilized, area. I read her blog almost every day and love it for the welcome break it provides.
Jul 27, 2016 Katie rated it liked it
Espinasse is an American transplant who fell in love with a Frenchman and France. This is a look at her life in the South of France. As charming as it was, it also seems very inaccessible to the regular soul. I would very much like to read something by a person enamored of France who doesn't have the financial resources Espinasse does.
Feb 29, 2012 Lisa rated it liked it
Shelves: paris
Based on the author's French Word-A-Day blog, this book is funny and interesting and makes you want to brush up your French and go to France. Sigh.
Jan 27, 2015 Amanda rated it did not like it
Not enough to be worthy of a book! Felt like I was reading diary entries from her blog...oh, wait I was.
Feb 27, 2010 Rachel rated it liked it
This book is a collection of language and cultural lessons from Kristin Espinasse, an American woman who moved to France after falling n love with the country and a Frenchman. Now the mother of two French children, she offers a charming collection of anecdotes on language learning, cultural navigation, and lessons from children to their parents.

The "lessons" that make up the different chapters each have a unique theme or main idea that links all the different words, phrases, and idioms Espinass
Jun 10, 2013 Lauragais rated it it was amazing
Shelves: travel
Difficult to choose a shelf for this lovely book. It is travel, it is language, it is a little bit of fiction, it includes a couple of love stories - no, not what you might think - the loves include Kristin's husband, her children, the French language, and her second native country, France. This is a wonderful way to learn a bit about French culture, the people, the country side, recipes, jokes, happenings, festivities and of course, the French language, just to name a few. Kristin does not omit ...more
Roberta Gibson
Mar 31, 2012 Roberta Gibson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-languages
Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France by Kristin Espinasse is an absolutely delightful book to help increase both vocabulary and an understanding of French culture for high school and college-level students. It is also enjoyable to read.

The book is a series of essays — originally written as blog posts –about Kristin Espinasse’s daily struggles and triumphs as an American living in France with her French husband and family. Each essay focuses on a few relat
Melanie Faith
Jul 11, 2014 Melanie Faith rated it it was amazing
I've been a subscriber to Kristin Espinasse's newsletter for a while, and I'm always excited and charmed to read her musings about her French village each week in my inbox. After five years of studying French I'm by no means fluent, but I always look forward to learning new terms and brushing up on plenty I've forgotten since college. This collection reads just like her newsletter, spotlighting a particular term en français and then including other terms in context of whatever the short essay's ...more
Feb 03, 2011 Crissy rated it liked it
What better way to enjoy this book than while living in the South of France? I was lucky enough to do just that. I eagerly flipped through the pages as I was living and experiencing what Epinasse was describing. Each section of the book is written as a short entry telling a charming story that is based around a particular French word, or a traditional French experience. The book tells the story of an American woman finding her place in France, and learning how to live her French life. A very qui ...more
Mar 23, 2016 Tessa rated it liked it
A fun coffee table book to read a few pages from every once in a while.

A woman moved to France from America to marry her husband; she'd majored in French, but when she started living there and raising children there she realized there was so much more to the language than she could learn in classes, because it was all woven into the French way of everyday life. Short chapters telling endearing, humorous stories about her experiences and memories with learning new words-- often from her own smal
Apr 18, 2014 Margie rated it really liked it
Recommended to Margie by: Cherrie
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
A friend recommended this delightful blog: You can sign up to receive two to three columns a week by email, each introducing a French word. Kristin Espinasse is an American from Arizona, who loving everything French, moved to France and is now married to a Frenchman. She lives in Provence with her husband and two children who delight in teasing her about her French accent. This charming book is her first of three and I will definitely be reading her second ...more
Mar 29, 2011 Nancy rated it really liked it
I learned about this book though the author's blog. This collection of brief vignettes detailing an everyday life in the South of France is full of subtle insights into a woman's life no matter where that life is lived and loved. The reader will learn some French phrases, not just travel dialogue, but more than that, the reader will enjoy quiet, understated, honest scenes from life. No place is exotic when one lives a day-to-day life there, so I appreciated the author's ability to see the quiet ...more
Jan 08, 2008 Melody rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who are learning French
Recommended to Melody by: Ann Smith
An American woman living in France along with her French husband and her "Franco-American" children, attempts to improve her French by taking a word a day and using it in an antidote about her new life in France. The book might have been better if I had read it with my computer handy so I could go to her blog - French Word a Day
and try to find the corresponding entry so that I could hear the audio file. But- why would I have needed the book then?
May 11, 2011 John rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
This is a fun little book. It is based on the author's blog where she write about her everyday life in southern France. In each story she includes some words or phrases in French, then at the end of each story explains the meanings. The stories are only one to four pages long so it is a quick easy read and something you could pick up and put down without any trouble. It is a fun way to brush up on a little high school French.
Feb 04, 2013 Elise rated it it was amazing
I absolutely adored this book. As a francophile (and, I'd like to think, decent francophone), I found Espinasse's brief anecdotes both entertaining and educational. Reading various French words in the context of her experiences such as family outings and errands helped me commit the words to memory better than if they were just printed, one after another, in columns on a page. I could say more but, well, just go read it yourself. Seriously. I cannot recommend this book enough!
Apr 03, 2007 Clare rated it liked it
I liked that this book allowed me to brush up on my French before bed, and I especially loved all the French idioms she included, which you don't get from your average language course. (My favorite was "faire la soupe de la grimace," or "make grimace soup," which is what you say when someone's being a sourpuss.) And I liked the glimpse into life as an expat, although I wasn't totally enamored with her writing style--most of the time, her endings felt painfully contrived.
Mar 22, 2010 Dvora rated it liked it
This book grew from a blog and the shortness of each of the entries bothered me a bit. I meant to read it at a long (or several long) sittings, but it was so broken up that I couldn't, so I ended up reading it little by little, perhaps as it was intended.

Espinasse has a nice way of viewing things and expressing herself, so it was a pleasant read. Since I am also an American expat, there was a lot there that I could personally relate to.
Jan 29, 2017 Susan added it
I didn't realize when I got this book(because of the cover) that it would be made up of definitions. But, it was pretty good and what an interesting way to tell your personal story. Every day Kristin would come up with a new word in French and would weave her life around the meaning. There was a very good and needed introduction (which I don't normally read). She is very lucky to have parents that heped her with her dream. I recommend this book for anyone that loves France.
May 09, 2008 Turi rated it really liked it
Shelves: france, ex-pat
Kristen Espinasse is the author of French Word-A-Day, a blog that I've been meaning to get on my feed reader for some time now, but just did today. I loved her book, Words In A French Life - it traces her life from growing up a self-described "desert rat" in Arizona to marrying a Frenchman and settling into life in France. I love her descriptions of her children, who are always correcting her grammar. Very fun book. Also a good blog to follow.
Oct 22, 2010 Meredith rated it liked it
This is a cute book, which is great if you picked up this book wanting cute stories about this American's domestic life in France with her native French husband and children. I was interested more in learning a little of the French language, and though this book is called an "innovative and entertaining way of teaching the finer points of French," it's hardly a French language instruction manual, as there are too few French words buried in Espinasse's flighty antecdotes.
Sep 21, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it
Perfect pick-up/put-down read. Read a few short stories over my lunch break and walked away feeling like I escaped to France -- even for moment. As a current student of French, I also learned a lot of new words and challenged myself as Espinasse weaved French vocabulary into her English prose. Recommend for French students.
Dec 05, 2011 Dorothy rated it liked it
This book is based on the author's blog and is a very pleasant way to learn some French colloquialisms. Born in Phoenix, Ariz, Kristin Espinasse married a Frenchman and now lives in Provence with her husband and 2 children. Her wonderful descriptions of the area make me want to book my next holiday there.
Sep 05, 2013 Derek rated it really liked it
I love everything French and this little book is a joy to read. It was a joy to read little vignettes about Espinasse's life in the south of France with her husband and children. Most of all, the book offers lots of colloquial French embedded in the text of each story, as well as a vocabulary summary with more related expressions at the end of each chapter.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
I wanted to give up on this book. It was too much work to keep flipping between the French words intermingled with the essay and the dictionary at the end of each chapter. Oddly, as I kept going, I seemed to understand more and more of the French words without looking them up. Does Espinasse’s technique really work?
Suzanne Dunaway
Jun 05, 2013 Suzanne Dunaway rated it it was amazing
I will read anything Kristin writes! I love French-Word-A-Day and my vocabulary has improved enormously, especially because she chooses words in French that are colloquial, conversational, and not standard "learn French" vocabulary. Very unique in her approach to the French language. I am an addict!!!
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