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I have read many accounts of families settling in France, and enjoyed them, so I was looking forward to this. Unfortunately, it was so boring that I gave up after a quarter of the book was read. It didn't manage to hold my attention at all, and I kept hoping it would get better. It didn't, so I can't recommend this book at all, on any level.
This paints a wonderful picture of living in France. It is a pleasant writing style, and easy to read. I enjoyed the initial excitement, and loved learning about the French way of life and customs, such as Christmas and New Year's Eve. Loved all the village festivals, and trips to Geneva, Lyon, Paris, Brittany etc. The holiday in southern France was wonderful. Italy was interesting too. I liked the honesty about their experiences. Not everything was entirely successful! It is amazing that Catherine managed to stay largely positive in spite of major challenges with health, mechanics, bureaucracy etc. The child's perspective on living in France is interesting. I smiled at the TinTin tale! Part 3 gave me tears, but it was a good read even so. It is great that the family settled so well in France and made it home for such a long time.
A book by a very Australian Australian determined to make a success of living in France. Quaintly charming, it largely centres around her everyday life and motherly concerns – the children’s food, their health, their illnesses, their education etc – as she tries to settle in and make sense of French ways and irritating bureaucracy. It’s the story of a family constantly changing houses and neighbours,, with a father constantly away on business, and a mother who is trying to keep family life going. But although there’s a lot about holidays, skiing, sightseeing, restaurants and shopping, the book does shed light on how it feels like to be a foreigner living in a French community. The author comes over as delightfully wide-eyed, forthright, friendly and fun, but as the world knows, this doesn’t necessarily cut the mustard in France, and her perseverance is praiseworthy. Their time in France is described with touching detail, and the book is written with a light, clear hand and a pleasing self-deprecating humour. Anyone contemplating living in France should read it.
Loved every moment of this book. Catherine writes from the heart about her family’s move to Annecy in France not sparing us the bureaucracy ( but putting a humorous spin on it) that they faced when settling in. The whole family obviously embraced the adventure and the children especially loved living in a different culture. Thank you Catherine for such a heartwarming book!
Explores the quirkiness and cultural differences of recent French village life from the perspective of a francophile Australian mother and three school-age children. The husband's/father's experiences and views are largely absent. The author skims across the surface of various challenges, problems and setbacks with grace and humour. Unfortunately this, for me, compromises the authenticity of the book. Having lived abroad extensively l know that homesickness and cultural disorientation can at times be gutwrenching. Instead of a completely honest representation of expatriate relocation and immersion the author offers an account not much removed from the standard travelogue which mediocre TV programmes churn out. For example, we are asked to believe that all three children (which includes a school beginner and a teenager) adjust linguistically and socially immediately and happily to their parents' choice of adventure AND to the months' long absence of their father who needed to work back in Australia to support the couple's dream AND to their mother's unexpected cancer diagnosis and treatment away from them all... without ANY sign of ANY tension in ANY of their relationships! Surely these paragons of emotional maturity and psychological resilience exist solely in the imagination of their fond mother's memories. I expect that her children's version of these years in France might not be quite so bucolic and so saccharine. On a practical note. I regret that neither the author, nor her proofreaders or her publishing company seem to know how to correctly use semicolons. They are sprinkled erratically throughout the work. This is not just annoying. Sometimes it so severely mangles meaning that both flow and comprehension are lost. Unpolished and incorrect punctuation cannot be blamed on spellcheck. A higher degree of professionalism is customary. For all of the above reasons, I shall not be following the reader or dipping into her next work. Nonetheless, l hope that her writing improves and her insights deepen as she continues. This book filled a few hours on a rainy Sunday afternoon when the chores were done, the house was empty and lockdown was in place. I recommend it if you find yourself in the same position.
The title was an immediate draw for me because having lived in France myself and owning a house there, I know firsthand that there are SO many situations where the only answer to why something is happening (good or bad) is, #becauseFrance. I was also attracted to the story of Catherine and her family’s move to France because, unlike many “We left our lives behind and moved to France” stories, theirs is a little more conservative (although in the big scheme of things they took a lot of risks) – their move was more realistic and do-able than many. Catherine had fallen in love with France as a young teacher on an exchange program and always dreamed of going back. But with three children and a husband with a job in Australia, moving there outright didn’t seem like a realistic option.
Catherine is an evocative writer and paints a picture with her words which will whisk you away to her life in France as you read each chapter. But perhaps even more than Catherine’s way with words, what I loved about this book was the family’s utter respect for the French (language, culture, people) and their surroundings. Instead of complaining about the mind-numbing pace at which things sometimes move, the quirks of #lifeinFrance and the frustrations that go along with all that, Catherine and her family seek to integrate fully into life in their new home, questioning things, for sure, but mostly wanting to make sure they are doing the right thing, even if sometimes (often) life in France is difficult. As Catherine says, despite the tongue-in-cheek nature of some of the stories she shares, the family really did love everything about their life in France. The book is also just as much an exploration of French culture (with a bit of history thrown in for good measure) as it is a story of an expat family living in the French alps.
If you’re an armchair traveller, if you have a love of all things French, wonder “How could *I* move to France, even just for a little while?” or if you’re just happy to experience life in France through someone else’s eyes, But you are in France, Madame is a book you simply must read. An excellent read – you won’t be able to put it down (I read it from start to finish in one bus ride and and afternoon!)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I'm not sure it's because the author lived the life in France I have always dreamed of, or simply because I was swept up in the customs, the food, the places and just the pleasantries of everyday life. If you have always wondered what life might be like if you took the brave step to move halfway across the world with your family, you should share these adventures. The author finely balances beautifully descriptive passages, insightful comments on people and places and some of the more sobering aspects involved in facing life's hurdles.
Some wonderful antidotes of how life can be simple and complicated all at the same time. Definitely some great wisdom moments to those thinking of embarking on life overseas, things such as medical emergencies - what does one do when in the midst of a crisis? Thank goodness for the wonderful people who stepped up to help out in those situations. France, simple yet not so simple, but oh what a joy.