Flirting With FrenchThe Blurb

William Alexander is more than a Francophile. He wants to be French. There’s one small obstacle though: he doesn’t speak la langue française. In Flirting with French, Alexander sets out to conquer the language he loves. But will it love him back?

Alexander eats, breathes, and sleeps French (even conjugating in his dreams). He travels to France, where mistranslations send him bicycling off in all sorts of wrong directions, and he nearly drowns in an immersion class in Provence, where, faced with the riddle of masculine breasts, feminine beards, and a turkey cutlet of uncertain gender, he starts to wonder whether he should’ve taken up golf instead of French. While playing hooky from grammar lessons and memory techniques, Alexander reports on the riotous workings of the Académie française, the four-hundred-year-old institution charged with keeping the language pure; explores the science of human communication, learning why it’s harder for fifty-year-olds to learn a second language than it is for five-year-olds; and, frustrated with his progress, explores an IBM research lab, where he trades barbs with a futuristic hand-held translator.

Does he succeed in becoming fluent? Readers will be as surprised as Alexander is to discover that, in a fascinating twist, studying French may have had a far greater impact on his life than actually learning to speak it ever would.

The Review

Some people might find it strange if you tell them that you are reading a memoir (of sorts) of a person that you have never heard of; a memoir that tracks their year of learning a language. On paper, this seems like a rather boring waste of time. However, William Alexander’s Flirting With French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me and Nearly Broke My Heart (from here on referred to as Flirting With French) was just plain wonderful.

Alexander’s pursuit of linguistic education is similar to my own. I, like Alexander, am a self confessed Francophile. I love everything about France: the culture, the food, and especially the language. As a teenager, I wasted five years of French tuition and failed my GCSE exam. As an adult (at the age of 29) I re-sat my exam – coming out with an A* – pretty nifty, right?

Wrong!

I had learnt how to function in France in an unrealistic way. I know how to say plenty of things and how to construct basic sentences. However, if you dropped me in the middle of France I would be completely lost – actually and linguistically. Like Alexander, I too am still pursuing fluency.

This is the reason I liked Flirting With French. I could relate to it far too easily. The desire, the stress, the determination and the heartbreak that Alexander so succinctly puts on the page – I have felt them all.

As I have said, I have never read anything by William Alexander before but I am glad I started with Flirting With French. It is a heart warming story that anyone who has known the pain and suffering of trying to learn a language will appreciate.

Flirting With French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me and Nearly Broke My Heart by William Alexander is available now.

The Blurb

Haven’t you ever told a little lie in the name of love?

Vivia Grant couldn’t be happier. She has her dream job and is about to marry her dream man. Does it really matter that she’s led him to believe she’s a virgin? After all, being in love makes every experience feel like the first time anyway! But an unexpected encounter with an ex-lover is about to expose her embarrassing lie…

When Vivia’s fiancé discovers the truth, he ends their engagement—via text—and uses his connections to get her fired. Unemployed and heartbroken, Vivia begins planning her new future—as a homeless spinster. But her best friend has a better idea. They’ll skip the Ben & Jerry’s binge and go on Vivia’s honeymoon instead. Two weeks cycling through Provence and Tuscany, with Luc de Caumont, a sexy French bike guide. Too bad Vivia’s not a big fan of biking. And she’s abysmal at languages. Will she fib her way through the adventure, or finally learn to love herself—and Luc—flaws and all?

The Review

I’m going to be really honest with you, I requested Faking It from NetGalley based entirely on the book’s cover. I’d never read anything by Leah Marie Brown before and on the cover was a picture of the Eiffel Tower and since I am a bit of a Francophile I decided that I wanted to read it. This is one of those serendipitous moments in the life of a book lover because damn this book was really good.

Faking It was a quick light-hearted read that constantly left me with that feel good feeling. It follows the adventures of Vivia who has recently been dumped by her fiancé, Nathan. To get over Nathan she decided (well is encouraged by her best friend Fanny) to go on the honeymoon to France. Vivia had many expectations of her trip to Europe but none of those expectations included falling for fit cyclist Luc, learning things about herself and having a life epiphany.

In hero Luc, Brown has created the most fanciable male in a story that I have read in a long time; I send Leah Marie Brown many a kudos for sending him into my life.

If I’m honest there was one small thing that did bother me about the book. I felt that there was an awful lot of product placement that was unnecessary. This didn’t bother me enough not to read the story and it really is just a personal preference. I would still implore people to pick up Faking It because it is a really entertaining read that is damn good fun. Vive le livre!

Faking It by Leah Marie Brown is available now.

Follow Leah Marie Brown (@leahmariebrown) on Twitter.

Faking It

Miss Prudencia Prim is new to the village; a isolated village in the outskirts of France. She has taken the position of librarian and quick sets about organising the gentleman’s library which is filled with dusty tomes of years gone by. However, Miss Prim quickly realises that not all that goes on in this village is what it seems.

The story focuses on Prudencia Prim and how she adjusts to the people and their (often strange) customs. Miss Prim is always proper and conscientious about the things she says or does. She is fiercely independent and firm in her beliefs and initially finds it hard to adapt or change for anyone or anything; nonetheless, she does find herself warming to the quirks and foibles of the residents in town – even when they make it their town mission to find her a husband.

For me, The Awakening of Miss Prim has echoes of literatures past embedded in the story. I couldn’t help but find that the people of the village came across a bit Stepford Wives, almost like the rules had been changed and the people who live their conditioned to act a certain way. The banter between Prudencia and the man in the wingchair reminded me of Elizabeth and Darcy – quick, cutting and chock full of wit.

However, it was an extremely curious read. The narrative paralleled Miss Prim’s attitude and countenance but what it also did was keep you at arms length. You are watching the story unfold but never fully immerse yourself in it. I think this is supported by the fact that you never learn the male leads name. Everything seems to be kept at a distance. Whether or not that was to replicate some of Miss Prim’s personality is up for interpretation.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. It was different from what I was expecting and entertaining in its strangeness.

The Awakening of Miss Prim by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera is available now.

The awakening of Miss Prim