The French Village Diaries: top Francophile book reviews – French Leave
We love discovering interesting new books on all things French. Lifestyle, cooking, travel – you name it, we’ll check it out. In this new series, Jacqui Brown reviews and shares her top picks when it comes to French-themed books. This week, she’s reviewing ‘French Leave’ by Liz Ryan.
Liz Ryan: experiencing the best and worst of France
My review today is for French Leave by Liz Ryan. Fed up of her fast-paced life in Dublin, writer Liz set off to seek out the quiet life on a windy plateau in Normandy and after ten years she has experienced the best and worst France has to offer.
From sun-kissed summers spent on the beaches to delicious food festivals that had her guests salivating at the delights on offer, to dodgy mechanics out to make a fast buck when a single foreign woman arrives on their forecourt, to TGV’s disrupted by strikes and suicides and more than one run-in with the local police!
She combines all her experiences in a humorous account that often had me laughing and nodding in agreement at her observations.
A fast-paced and honest story
Her chapter on learning the language was particularly brilliant, I felt she had her finger on the pulse of French culture and politics (more so than most) and she is one of the very few people who have ever successfully encouraged me to watch more French TV. She writes with passion and truth, and although I didn’t agree with everything, it felt OK to have our differences.
This is a fast-paced read, like the conversation that flows at breakneck speed from the mouths of my Irish cousins, fun, but sometimes a little too fast for me. It wasn’t a book that I couldn’t put down, rather one that I needed regular rests from to catch my breath, but certainly a book worth reading – maybe I’ve just been living the slow rural life for too long?
French Leave: for all Francophiles
If you’ve made the move to France, I think you will enjoy her experiences and probably learn something too (I did).
If you want to make the move, I think you should read this book and take notes.
If you just enjoy the dream of France and like being entertained by memoirs like this, you will be able to have a laugh, (mostly at the expense of those of us who have made the move).
‘Becoming’ French: the limbo of expat life
The end of the book highlights an issue that not many of us talk about, the limbo that is expat life. After ten years in France, she is asking herself if she should stay, or go back, or move on elsewhere. I really wanted to sit down with her, pour a glass of wine and say ‘yes, I understand how you feel’.
Once you have moved away and experienced something different you can go back, but you are not the same person you were when you left and it will never be the same place that you left behind. It also takes many more years than she or I have been here to become ‘French’ if we ever could!
This book would be perfect for anyone who has experienced making the move to France!
Are you an expat living in France? Have you also experienced the best and the worst of French life? We’d love to hear your thoughts and stories in the comments box below.
1, 2 & 3 via French Leave Facebook page You can also read the interview with Liz Ryan, the author of ‘French Leave’ – the book reviewed above. This article was first published on The French Village Diaries and republished here with permission as part of our content collaboration with Jacqui Brown.