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We'll Always Have Paris: Trying and Failing to Be French
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We'll Always Have Paris: Trying and Failing to Be French

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  458 ratings  ·  50 reviews

As a bored, moody teenager, Emma Beddington came across a copy of French ELLE in the library of her austere Yorkshire school. As she turned the pages, full of philosophy, sex and lipstick, she realized that her life had one purpose and one purpose only: she needed to be French.

Instead of skulking in her bedroom listening to The Smiths or trudging to Betty's Tea Room to bu

Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published April 21st 2016 by Macmillan
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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Apr 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Emma Beddington's writing is sublime. Like, envy-inducing sublime. I should start by saying that I've been a big fan of her blog, belgianwaffling, for ages and was looking forward to this book for months. Suffice to say, it didn't disappoint. Although if you come to it expecting anecdotes about tortoise penises (penii?), you'll be, err, disappointed (that sounds wrong. You need to read the blog).

This is a stunning memoir, written in Beddington's trademark comedy-to-tragedy-in-a-nanosecond style.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up as it was the designated reading for a book club but I'm sorry to say I didn't really enjoy it. I couldn't related with all the French-craziness so this had me put off to begin with as it wouldn't be a book I would choose for myself normally. The writing was ok in parts of it - I can see how the author wrote a successful blog but I'm afraid that this book might not be her best piece of work. However it got too repetitive and I felt like I was reading the same thing over and over ...more
Mar 07, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked the writing but wasnt really clear on the memoir bit - there was a lot of personal info in these pages, and to be honest, her journey was quite complex, and she was lucky to be surrounded by some good people !! The writing was witty, and humorous in parts, balanced out with some awful times... there was a fair bit of depth in these pages
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Aptly, I finished this book on the Eurostar train from London to Brussels, and loved every page. It is a real-life story of love, loss, and redemption.

Cities, family, friends, and cake share the stage stage in this memoir. Emma Beddington longs to be Parisien, but when she finally arrives, the city does not live up to her expectations. Often, the high point of her day is one of the many French pastries that are beautifully presented in patisserie windows.

This book examines the question of wha
Helen King
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fun, speedy read, pointing out the challenges that can come by trying to create a life, and a persona, that you think you want, which may not be what you think it will be. Emma Beddington writes in a very engaging way. She's a bit 'glass half empty', but not in a deflating way (I suspect things weren't as horrendously awful as she paints them, nor was she as incompetent as she suggests she was, but that's part of her style).

Something that struck me:

Often what comes up with people who have mov
Apr 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Thought this would be a cheery, batty, oh-how-silly-and-English-I-am-among-all-these-suave-Frenchies bit of whimsy. Wrong. It's a very sad exercise in therapy by memoir that discloses more personal information than is perhaps wise. The writing is good, but the writer herself doesn't come out of this looking very good. ...more
Apr 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An amazingly open and honest tale of a woman growing into adulthood, and her relationship with a wonderful man. A real insight into expat life, and international families. It made me cry a few times, and laugh a lot.
Jane Gregg
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked this memoir up at the library and thought it would be a nice, light read. It was a lovely read - but not light. Much better - it is deep, sad and reflective. Truthful. Lightened in places with humour and cake.
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Reminds me quite a bit of Five Flights Up: trying to live an ideal and learning that it is not so ideal after all, and having to come to terms with that and figure out what to do with it.

As a teenager, Beddington was something of a francophile; as an adult, partnered with a French man, she set out to live her dream of becoming a Parisienne. But this was in the wake of grief, and anyway the city of one's dreams is never really the city of one's reality. So then more moves, partly out of practical
Megan ☾ Michaels

...and here's why.

This book just wasn't what I signed up for. The title suggests a romantic, dreamy memoir, set amongst the boulevards of chic Paris, and comedy - 'trying and failing to be french' definitely set my expectations high on that front; think... Dawn French goes to Paris hilarity. Even the blurb backs this assumption up, so I was very excited to pick this up and start reading.

It was not that. At all. It was dark, moody, and very British (i.e. not-very-parisien).
For the first ma
Sep 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
I hate this book. I can’t figure out what is the woman’s problem? She seems to be constantly unhappy and complaining, both in the UK and in France. Plus everything just happens to her as if she had no agency of her own: her boyfriend becomes and (surprisingly to her) stays her boyfriend... and then husband... then the children pop out then the whole family moves to France which seems to be another drama even though it also seemed to be the main heroine biggest dream... Then the writing might hav ...more
Lindsay Lynch
May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've been reading Emma's blog for a few years now, and have grown to love the combination of self-deprecating wit and expat bemusement at life in Brussels, but that didn't prepare me for the emotional depth and complexity of her (first volume of?) memoirs.
It deals in a clear-eyed and affecting way with various aspects of growing up and finding your place in the world. It's about facing up to a reality which may not match your idealised fantasies (whether that's a much-dreamed-of city, or a marr
Katy Wheatley
Apr 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As a long term follower of Emma's blog, it is an absolute delight to read her book. It's funny, poignant, brave and honest and she, as ever, writes beautifully, even if she won't believe you when you tell her so. This is the story of Emma's quest to shake off the Yorkshire teenager she has grown up to be, and morph into the elegant, French siren she knows deep down she has in her soul. It charts her fraught relationship with Paris, and the mismatch between who she is and who she wants to be, and ...more
Jo Crawford
Oct 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read and enjoyed Emma's blog 'Belgian waffling' for the last few years so I was very keen to read her book. It's excellent, a story of family, dealing with loss, Paris and Brussels and lots of cake. Loved it. ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this and she's very talented. But no. ...more
Ann Brogan
This isn't the book I thought it was going to be and the title is misleading really because apart from visiting it towards the end of the ten-year span that it covers, the author only lived for one of those in Paris. If I'd known it was going to be a confessional-style memoir ranging from adolescence to motherhood, I don't think I would have picked it up. Her publisher has done a good job fooling an unsuspecting readership.
Nevertheless, aside from the middle-class moan fest that it descends into
Aug 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
As I like nothing more than a good location read I had been saving We'll Always Have Paris by Emma Beddington for my long awaited summer holiday in France, not quite Paris but sandwiched somewhere between Bordeaux and Cognac (remembered only for their alcoholic references).

We'll Always Have Paris is Beddington's memoir of a lifelong obsession with France featuring an astoundingly lot of patisserie, flan in particular of which I was of course was forced to try as all dedicated readers would!

Apr 16, 2021 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Holly Way
Nov 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A well-written memoir which explores mental health, grief and a universally relatable search for connection and belonging. The author perfectly illustrates the harsh truth of "wherever you go, there you are" with her lifelong attempt to find or lose herself in another culture. She buys into the marketable construction of un Paris très romanesque, but the reality is something else entirely.
This book frequently hit a little too close to home, making it a trying read at times, but I do think there
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Funny. Smart. Great vocabulary. She loves words the way she loves cakes.
Its not really about Paris. It is really a memoir about an English girl and the perilous journey of making a life and becoming an adult.
On occasion she is whiney, but aren't we all, and sometimes I get a bit fed-up with her apologetic-Englishness: where is the roll-up-your-sleeves-and-sort-it-out-ness that is ever present in so many of my English friends?
But she is charming and self-deprecating, (and often very enlightened a
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
I brought this book expecting and wanting the cliche western woman in quirky Paris narrative. It was honest, real and a memoir but would’ve faired better as a memoir delving into the clear issues the author was facing. And I know the intention was to be honest and written in the context of a tragedy; but a lot just felt like complaining. I wouldn’t have minded exploring the real negative side of life but that wasn’t done, instead incessant frustration passed as “honest commentary”. Worth the rea ...more
Christine Betts
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Such a brave memoir! It takes courage to admit that you're not coping, to tell people where you messed up, to admit you don't have all the answers. Emma's story reminds me that while I fantasise about how it would have been to move to Paris in my early 20s, I realise I was fragile too and probably would have crashed and burned also. Thanks Emma, for sharing your story. ...more
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So glad to discover Emma Beddington. Thank you, Mirare! Clever and funny and warm. Sad and hopeful. Looking forward to her blog.
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: love-love-love
sometimes you read the right book at the right time but honestly Emma Beddington is such a relatable person that I can hardly think of a time when this book wouldn't be relevant to my life ...more
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a francophile, I adored this book! I related to so many elements of her life in Paris and how she coped adjusting to a new culture and new city.
Julia Smith
Mar 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Funny, candid and sweet!
Melanie Moore
Mar 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of material to discuss in this memoir. It would be a great book club choice!
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
Absolutely loved it, rang many truths with me. Exquisitely written.
Jun 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
In three words: pleasurable, delectable, inspiring
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