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I have lived in France for nearly 6 years between the ages of 32 and 38 while raising two children. I grew up in America. I think the authors did a good job of communicating many interesting and not necessarily well known aspects of French society, yet some of the anecdotes seemed a bit peripheral to me.
On another note, I didn’t agree with a number of the analyses in the book, and would say that about 2/3 of what the authors said resonates with our experience in France so far. There was a fair amount of quoting one or two academic studies as authorities on a certain aspect of French society or culture, when I thought there were other better explanations of the phenomena described.
I will recommend this book to people before or during a stay in France… but to be taken with a grain of salt realizing that the reader may come to different conclusions about the way French people act.
It’s full of personal anecdotes and stories. There’s also a certain amount of explanation of politics and society. FYI It is written with certain chapters by him and certain chapters by her.
Thinking about these issues, using the stories the authors describe, will be very useful as outsiders attempt to interact successfully with French people.
Final note- I wasn’t crazy about the narration, in part because, although she had a sort of French-sounding accent, she grossly mis-pronounced a number of French words. It’s no big deal but for most, but for readers who speak French, it gave an air of false authenticity to the book which is no fault of the authors. And if you don’t speak French, you may find the large number of French words and expressions difficult to mentally re-transcribe as pronounced.
Worth reading, yet I wonder if there isn’t a better intro to French culture book out there.
Extremely useful for anyone visiting France. Very helpful for contrasting social conversations that differ between Europe and N America.