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Dreaming in French: A Novel
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Dreaming in French: A Novel

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  416 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
CHARLOTTE SANDERS, a precocious American girl growing up in Paris in the late 1970s, leads a charmed life. But her idyllic childhood is turned upside down when her mother, Astrid, has an affair and the family is shattered. Leaving her sister in Paris, Charlotte follows Astrid to New York. There, in the shadow of her glamorous and erratic mother, Charlotte has to negotiate ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Scribner (first published August 21st 2009)
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Daisy
I had fun with this. Completely escapist and engrossing/distracting. But the title is lame, it's at times over-written, and it takes too long to come to an end (even though I liked finding out what happened to everyone).

I read this in about 25 hours. That is, I started it at night, read it all the next day, and into the midnight hours of the next day--so really in just about a day.

"It was the last time for many years that we all acted the way we felt."
Blake Fraina
Jul 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Megan McAndrew’s Dreaming in French is the tender, funny and smart story of Charlotte, a teenage girl in 1980’s Paris, growing up against the backdrop of a rapidly changing Europe. After the divorce of her American parents, Frank a stuffy, conservative lawyer and Astrid, a bohemian free-spirit, she and her newly penurious mother move to New York where they must start over. Charlotte is forced to mature quickly in order to bring some order into a household badly mismanaged by the extravagant and ...more
Kari
Sep 03, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I started reading Megan McAndrew's newest novel, Dreaming in French, I thought, "Man, I want this girl's life." It's the late 1970s, and Charlotte Sanders is a fifteen-year-old American living in an upscale Paris neighborhood with her sixteen-year-old sister Lea and their expatriate parents. The publisher blurb describes Charlotte as "precocious," and I can't think of a much better adjective. She is highly aware of her surroundings, the way people react, the way society functions. She's at ...more
Rebecca
Jul 04, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could give books half stars, I would have given this book 2.5 stars.

This book kept me reading, but I could have stopped reading at any time. The beginning of this book reminded me a lot of 'Are you there God? It's me Margret". It was a compelling coming of age story (and I guess the whole book is as Charlotte starts off as a young girl of 15 {who can't wait for her 'monthlies' to start} and ends with her at 30).

The book doesn't leave you feeling any sort of hope of her attaining happin
...more
Elizabeth
Nov 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McAndrew's novel detailing the complicated story of a multi-generational expat family is pure and enticing. Her language throughout is compelling in its compact yet layered nature. The protagonist Charlotte blossoms from her days as a curious lycée student in Paris to her much later days as a risk-taking journalist on the front lines of Eastern European events in the 80's. At times I felt a bit stifled by her perspective as she remained vraiment straightforward in her descriptions of the elabora ...more
Vicky
Mar 13, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book promised a lot, but did not deliver for me. I was not touched by the problems of rich Americans in Paris, by their boredom and lack of direction. The coming of age story is nothing new - the girl from the divorced family, living between two worlds. The only difference was that she always had enough of financial support, the best private education and a many choices to choose from. I did not feel sorry for her or her family. Somehow even if some characters had a lot of potential they di ...more
Gina
Apr 06, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always get sucked into books by the cute covers. This story was okay- not something I'd say I couldn't put down, but better than some of the others I've read recently. There was nothing too heavy, yet that said, I often found myself wondering if there was a point to the story itself at all. The plot line was not really intriguing, and I kept waiting for something bigger to occur but it never did.
Nazish
Definitely not your usual chick-lit..I would say it is riled with feminism through and through. Never thought a YA novel would impress me the way it did after all those years of abandoning the genre altogether. For a rare and ordinary title, this is very extraordinary.
Erica
I wish I could remember who recommended this book to me, because I enjoyed it so much and I want to thank whoever it was! I'll never get enough of coming-of-age stories. this one takes place in the 70s and early 80s in paris and New York and reminded me very much of The Adults, which I also loved.
Deb
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I always appreciate an author who can create characters that defy labels... no one is always good, no one is always bad. People are complex and relationship complicated. Just the way it is...
Alaine
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this book up because I read the synopsis and McAndrew's short bio. Growing up as a Third Culture Kid among the expatriate world this book really captured the element that Charlotte, Lea, Astrid, and Frank as American expats living in Paris at the brink of the meltdown of the communist movement in Eastern Europe. Charlotte and Lea are regular teenagers who attend a private exclusive school among children who have influential or socialite parents among the elite in Paris. As an expat Amer ...more
tina
I disappointed myself by buying this book, even more that i liked substantial parts of it. good things first; maybelle and charlotte are pretty solid characters who carry the first half of the book. the family's interdependence also intrigued me some. I even liked the tone early on-adolescent and inviting. this tone returned when astrid was diagnosed. so that part interested me too.
but i'm not too sure what the narrator was shooting for. was this a book about becoming a grown-up? was it about a
...more
Venessa
Sep 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set mainly in France and told in first person point of view by Charlotte, a privileged girl from the United States growing up in Paris with her sister, Lea, and her parents, Frank and Astrid. Astrid is adored by her youngest daughter, so much so that Charlotte has a hard time sleeping if her mother is out late at one of her frequent soirees with her best friend, the somewhat overbearing but amusing Grace. Charlotte is characterized as kind of a goody-goody who wishes she weren't: wanting to lose ...more
Kristi
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm dedicating this review to the dear friends that "enjoys" all the email notifications about the books I'm reading. You were looking forward to this one :p

While the storyline kept me interested throughout, I thought the novel moved rather slowly. I love the concept of the novel and the way McAndrew carefully moves between the United States and various European countries. Being familiar with Paris, I enjoyed the international dimension of the novel.

A nice coming of age story, my biggest apprec
...more
Katherine
Dec 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The beginning of this book really doesn't give you an accurate picture of everything the book is going to dig into, and I think that's a shame. Part of my confusion once I reached the midway point was that I couldn't understand why the scope of the novel had changed.

The pacing seemed a little off, but it also mirrored the development of Charlotte, and once I realized that, I didn't have as many problems with it. When Charlotte's life is steady and normal, the book is steady and normal as well; w
...more
Katie
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
This book was just fine. I don't really have much to say, because it certainly wasn't bad at all, but it also wasn't anything fantastic. The writing is quite nice, and there are a decent amount of lovely phrasing that shows McAndrew definitely is a talented writer. The story is interesting enough, so it's a nice escape, and I have to say that I found the characters pretty interesting/realistic. It just seems like a very, very general fiction novel, and to be honest, there were happenings in it t ...more
Kat
Jun 15, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts out as an engaging and funny story of an American family living in Paris. It turns into something slightly less appealing as the family disintegrates and we follow its members for many years. A fairly large subplot has to do with the events in Poland 1978-1989, and by the end the book has a fair number of Polish characters (people, not diacritic marks) in it (who are mostly nice). I was impressed by the accuracy of the retelling of that period of Polish history and the correct s ...more
Nostalgic
Jul 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As someone who desperately wants to be an expatriate, I loved this novel. The blurb on the back cover makes it seem like this is a family drama what with an affair and all. The affair is secondary in this family novel, as are most the male characters. Unique women are what drive the plot, and define the life of Charlotte Saunders. Her practical sister Lea. Her optimistic and sensible aunt, Maybelle. The silly but loyal, Grace. And Astrid. McAndrew does an excellent job at making us like a woman, ...more
Georgia
Nov 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed Dreaming in French. I liked Charlotte, and I liked how you could really see her character's transformation from a spoiled girl to a confident woman throughout the book. All the characters, places, and relationships were so vibrant in this book, and that's what really made it stand out. From the trials and tribulations Charlotte faced to the description of grey and bleak Poland, everything was very well written.

My problem with this book though, was the pacing. In the first half Charlot
...more
Leanne
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really, really loved 80% of this book. I adored the first half, with Charlotte's life in Paris. I loved the descriptive writing and how I could just picture Charlotte's world, and Astrid, and everything else. I didn't care much for the political references, and sort of wished that parts of the book didn't move so fast.

It read like a memoir, and I was left wanting to know what happened next. But overall, this was such a refreshing, well-written book. I look forward to reading Megan McAndrew's
...more
Oriana
Feb 27, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
From the L Magazine review: In Dreaming in French, Meghan McAndrew lovingly captures the desperate seriousness of being a teenager, years when everything feels terribly important and much energy is spent proving it.... Dreaming in French may be predictable – walking us through the milestones of precocious young adulthood as if working from a checklist – but part of Charlotte's appeal lies in her familiarity. She's an archetype, an outsider determined to stand at a distance from the happy endings ...more
Danielle
I love coming of age stories and this one was a nice, light summer read. I especially love coming of age novels set in the 60s, 70s and 80s. The characters were really indepth-had a lot of layers that you grew to discover and know over the course of the novel. Characters you thought were one way ended up being another very surprising way and it was refreshing. Also loved the culture, European history and the main character's dry commentary on the phony, bourgeoisie people around her.

Pick this o
...more
Jess
May 04, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am tempted to give this book five stars, because it was beautifully written and as one of the reviews said on the back of the book, the author has the ability to create flawed characters without judging them... and what i loved was the flow of McAndrew's narrative. It was seamless and made me want to keep reading, long after I was way too tired to do so.

I found this book in the library and picked it up because I liked the title and the cover and it was such an enjoyable read. Plus, I loved the
...more
Jennifer Whiteford
I was at the library recently, looking for a novel I could get sucked into and I pulled this randomly from the shelf. It ended up being the perfect novel for that purpose, since coming of age stories are usually compelling but also light enough to be absorbing. The characters in the book are well drawn and interesting, and the addition of some political plot points makes the plot a bit more worldly than the average family drama. This kept me intrigued for a few days, which is what I was looking ...more
Marilyn
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyed this one. Wouldn't call it "a beach book" but the characters do grab you. Coming-of-age in France; with backdrops of Poland and eventually a move to U.S. for main character; mother/daughter relationships (as well as father/child), with family issues galore. For me, it especially emphasized that each one of us lives in our own little world(s) yet they intersect and (often deeply) influence and are influenced by "other worlds." What was happening in the Eastern Bloc in Europe certainly dis ...more
Sarah
Apr 20, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This adult coming of age novel follows Charlotte as she grows up in France in her mother’s shadow. The first half of this book is strong, interesting, intense and painful in a teenage (although wealthy and in a posh international school in Paris) kind of way. The novel loses steam as Charlotte and her mother move to New York (there are some Polish solidarity workers involved somehow – sort of a strange side story). I would be interested in what else this author writes.
Ashlyn
Jul 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
OK, the last in my French series. I read this after coming home from Paris, kind of on a whim. It was in the browsing room at Gettysburg College's library. It details the story of a family where the parents go through a divorce and two sisters end up split, one in Paris and one in NY. I loved all the family dynamics and dysfunctions and that the ending was not all tied up pretty with a bow. Interesting characters and journeys from France to NY City to Poland.
Leah Shirley
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
This is an amazing novel. I found so much connection through all of the characters. I found myself personally to be a blend of Frank and Charlotte. I really enjoyed reading a novel and finding a connection of myself in the characters. I loved the place this book took me. The ups and downs. It is very enjoyable and I loved every second of it. Hope to find another novel soon with strong and complex female leads as in this one.
Kathy
Jul 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Charlotte Sanders, the narrator of this novel, lives in Paris with her expatriate parents, Frank and Astrid, and her older sister Lea. The book takes begins in the late 70's and moves into the 80's and much of the subplot involves the fall of communism in Eastern Europe. The book starts out as a light, coming of age story, but as the characters' lives become more complicated, the book loses some of its momentum.
Jessica
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was generally enjoyable, but it wasn't as light as I anticipated it would be. I feel like it got darker and darker closer to the end, but maybe it's just true to life. I bought it at the same time I bought "French Lessons," by Ellen Sussman, which was more of the dreamy "trip to Paris in a book" that I was looking for.
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Megan Mcandrew grew up in France, Spain, and Belgium, and has worked in Warsaw, Poland, as a representative for the Financial Services Volunteer Corps. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Management. Megan lives in New York with her eleven-year-old son.

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