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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 ·  1,832 Ratings  ·  229 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, doubting
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by Atria Books
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Read this book at your peril if you are learning to speak French, as the French spoken here is ATROCIOUS. If, however, you have some knowledge of French this can be a hoot.

It is one of a zillion stories of Americans, Brits and others buying property in France, and their trials, tribulations and triumphs. In this instance an American teacher buys a property in a Breton village after a holiday with a girlfriend. The house is aptly named "Kostez Gwer", which just so happens to mean 'green side'. Th
Jan 07, 2009 Barbara rated it liked it
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
Aug 29, 2012 Glory Gray rated it really liked it
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
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
Feb 26, 2011 Lesley rated it it was ok

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
Mar 05, 2009 Wellington rated it it was ok

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.

Oct 06, 2009 Phil rated it really liked it
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.
Apr 19, 2013 Dianne rated it it was ok
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
Jan 23, 2009 Julie rated it liked it
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
Aug 28, 2012 OurBookAddiction rated it really liked it
I discovered this book when it popped up as a recommendation for me since I've read some books by Peter Mayle. This is one for those who enjoy reading about people who actually act upon their dream and live in other countries. The author never knew this was his dream until he actually visited one summer with a girlfriend and the idea to visit had been hers. He falls out of love with her and in love with France.

Mark Greenside writing is laugh out loud funny, no doubt about that. His writing style
Sep 15, 2009 Megan rated it really liked it
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
Dec 08, 2014 Marie rated it really liked it
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 Rose rated it really liked it
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.

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 13, 2009 Amanda rated it did not like it
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.
Jul 19, 2017 Shasta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, humor
Jack Rochester
Jul 30, 2012 Jack Rochester rated it it was amazing
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 19, 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
Aug 10, 2011 Lindsay rated it really liked it
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
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
Feb 02, 2009 Lisa rated it really liked it
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
Aug 07, 2011 Betty added it
A fast, enjoyable read that made me want to visit Brittany...and rent his house for a month or two. Would have been better had the stories linked into a more coherent narrative. As is, while they appear to be in chronological order, the chapters are somewhat disjointed and resemble "party pieces" of storytelling. And, while the author claims to have evolved for the better for his experience in France, the reader cannot detect a material difference by the evidence of the narrative. Often what the ...more
Melissa Cuevas
May 06, 2013 Melissa Cuevas rated it liked it
Not an incredibly deep book, but a nice, fast easy read. I picked this one up as part of my mental preparation for an upcoming move to a foreign country, where I don't speak the language well. And this one was a comforting one, since Greenside had a pretty benign experience with it. He notes that it's the small things that are the real tests, and after a long and puzzling time trying to buy pastries at a Mexican Wal-Mart, I certainly know where he's coming from.

My real discontent with the book
David Grimaud
Jul 30, 2011 David Grimaud rated it really liked it
Shelves: french
I bought this on a whim. The title caught my eye. My interest in the country of France, dormant since my two years of high school French, was reborn when my daughter traveled two years ago to French-speaking Africa and my son took French as a second language in high school.

Greenside's story begins when he reluctantly follows a love interest to Brittany for the summer. She breaks up. Just before he returns alone to the U.S., a persistent neighbor lady who speaks no English takes him a house hunti
Jul 26, 2010 Monica rated it it was ok
Shelves: didn-t-finish
It started off ok, but I don't think I'm going to finish it. After some months in Brittany with a girlfriend, Greenside, without a lot of money (well, with money from his mom), decides to buy a house. And here's where it started to lose my interest. I mean, who really wants to read about floor renovation? Boring.

Also, a lot of the dialogue is in French, and, while some is easy to figure out, some of it was not and I don't know any French.

Something about his tone irked me, too. Wow! I don't hav
Jan 17, 2009 Julia rated it really liked it
Recommended to Julia by: Minneapolis Star Tribune
Greenside's old hippie self is in for a cultural awakening by living in a foreign land. I laughed out loud at some of Mark's attempts to win over his French neighbors and townspeople in this wonderful story of a mature man falling in love with a grace-filled area and trying to make a life for himself there. Originally, Mark and his girlfriend Kathryn (both writers) rent a house in Brittany for the summer for work and relaxation. Their relationship doesn't survive the summer, but Mark's connectio ...more
Aug 31, 2009 Crystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starting right out with the title of this book, I identified with the author throughout. I've said to myself and others many times a variation: I can never be French; I can never be anything but an American no matter how hard I try. That somebody other than myself might actually want to be and that he has a whole book extolling the virtues of the French instead of the usual, ignorant French-bashing warmed my heart. I, like him, would love to buy a house in France. But unlike him, I don't have a ...more
Dec 08, 2011 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
If you want to read Mark Greenside's diary, then go for this book. Mark has some strong opinions on parenting in America vs. parenting in France. Seems that parents in America suck and parents in France have really enjoyable children and sociable teenagers. All this from a guy nearing his 50th birthday, not much to say for himself in regards to relationships and no children of his own.

I guess my review is that pretty much everything Mark had to say just rubbed me the wrong way. I don't think he'
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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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