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Almost French: Love and a New Life in Paris

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  13,706 ratings  ·  921 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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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  13,706 ratings  ·  921 reviews

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Nov 19, 2012 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
Aug 29, 2007 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
The Kindle blurb begins with the statement: Before Eat, Pray, Love, there was Almost French. I missed that statement. Duh to me. I did not like Eat, Pray, Love. But here we are anyway.

I'm not writing a blurb for this journal. I'm sharing my opinion of the book. It will therefor contain spoilers.

There are really great points in this book about the French culture, as experienced by a 'radical feminist' as the author was seen in a country where she resided for a few years. In her later books she w
Mar 11, 2010 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
3.5★ The idea of living in France sounds lovely, but in reality, I think I’d probably be lucky to manage living there for any more than a month!! There are just too many things that would drive me batty - the bureaucracy, the queues, the competitiveness between women which results in a lack of friendliness, just the general effort involved in living each day in a culture which involves a completely different perspective compared to the Australian way of life, as the author found out… I know ther ...more
Oct 29, 2011 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
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: france
4.5 rounded up. A vivid and captivating personal account of the author Sarah Turnbull’s seven-year life in Paris with her boyfriend Frédéric.
The two met each other by chance at a party in Romania while 27-year-old Sarah from Sydney was taking a one-year break in Europe. Frédéric extended an invitation to Sarah to visit Paris and stay with him for a fortnight. Ça y est…
Sarah decided to take the plunge and start a life in Paris with Frédéric when she had neither money nor job, and her French and
Sarah Hine
Jun 15, 2008 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.
Jan 22, 2010 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
Apr 01, 2009 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
Apr 18, 2014 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
Quite interesting altogether, although to be honest it was a bit of a struggle at times.

My two problems with this:

Her relationship with Frédéric. Did I miss 20-50 pages somewhere or does she really just meet this French guy in Romania, spends a few days with him and then follows him to Paris and moves in with him for good? And not a single word on how the relationship itself develops. Half a book later they are your classic old married (OK, unmarried) couple. Yawn. I'm not after juicy details, b
Aug 03, 2007 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.
3.5 Stars
Rebekah O'Dell
Jan 22, 2011 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 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
Sep 13, 2008 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 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 !!
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 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
Mar 19, 2009 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 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.
Nov 14, 2014 rated it did not like it
Uh, if you're looking for gross stereotypes and generalizations about the French from a privileged expat's point of view, read this and Lunch in Paris.
Mary Klopfenstein
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked this book because I related to her feelings about moving to another country and living with someone from there. Since living in Chile I've spoken to a lot of other foreign wives and we all seem to share the same feelings expressed in this book. I definitely recommend it to anyone in the same situation.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Somehow or other, the deluge of books about women going off to France seems to rushed past me. I hadn't particularly been drawn to dip my toes into the flow, but this book was chosen by my bookgroup and so I read it, some sixteen years after it was published.

At the time of writing it, Sarah Turnbull was an expatriate freelance journalist living in Paris. Most of her journalistic work was published in magazines (similar to the Weekend Magazine that comes with the Age), and the lightness of her to
J.H. Moncrieff
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Hovered between 3.5 and 4 stars.

If you enjoy travel memoirs about women who give up everything for love and move to a completely different culture, you could do worse than this one.

Turnbull, an Australian journalist from Sydney, falls in love with Frederic when she agrees to visit him "for a week" in Paris. She never leaves.

This book is an easy, pleasant read that accurately depicts a lot of the stress and challenges a so-called "Anglo-Saxon" would face when immigrating to France. Turnbull goes
Well what a charming autobiographical narration about life in Paris (and wider, France)!
I assumed this was some Anna and the French Kiss kind of story for older readers, so it surprised me to find out upon reading the prologue that this is indeed Sarah Turnbull's own story of emigration.

I loved reading about the idiosyncrasies we all know and love (or hate) about Paris and the Parisian lifestyle, and I enjoyed the fact she wrote about them in a realistic way, not making things seem better or wor
Peggy Rowland
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Sarah Turnbull writes a balanced report on living her expat life in Paris with many insights applicable to understanding cultural differences and adapting without judgments. Loved the 7 year journey so much.
Linda Tomase
May 26, 2017 rated it liked it
It's good fun, enjoyable read to keep at hand while doing other - less bubbly and mood enhancing -stuff.
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