The Truth About French WomenThe Blurb

The Truth About French Women shows us that French women really are fascinating, but not for the reasons you think. French women have a mystique about them. They have, throughout the ages, been considered by some as a species apart – apparently flawless women, for whom sex and sensuality are central to their identity.

But are French women really a model of elegance, always perfectly dressed with designer clothes as the stereotype would have us believe? Are they all intellectual, classy creatures with a perfect waistline, even if they eat croissants au beurre all day long? Are they all sexually liberated, wearing kinky lingerie and bedding other women’s husbands (seducing them with a bottle of champagne kept near the bed, of course)?

The Truth About French Women focuses on who French women really are, and why they’re more interesting than the clichés. It calls on women throughout French history who have defied societal norms and created their own destiny. French women who include heroines such as Jeanne d’Arc, the teenage girl who led the French army to success; the legendary sans culottes, who were instrumental during the French Revolution and Coco Chanel, who not only built a fashion empire, but also liberated women from the constraints of the corset, allowing an unprecedented amount of physical freedom for the fairer sex. It’s also a study into the realities of everyday life for the contemporary French woman, and how she interprets love, art and politics.

The Review

I don’t really know what I was expecting with The Truth about French Women. What I got was a really interesting book about: French women, French history and a dollop of feminism.

The Truth about French Women by Marie Morgane Le Moel is a really interesting read. I learnt a lot about subjects of which I had no previous knowledge. I was presented with French women that shaped the state of a country, the economy, philosophy, and teachings. It was truly fascinating.

I did feel that the feminist angle was, at times, lost among the historical content. I also felt that the author sometimes encouraged the homogenous beliefs about French women rather than subverting the often negative opinions. I don’t know if this was intentional but I can’t fathom for the life of me why Marie Morgane Le Moel would do such a thing.

Either way, this The Truth about French Women is truly fascinating and extremely well written.

The Truth about French Women by Marie Morgane Le Moel is available now.

4 Stars

Weird ThingsTitle: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

Author: Jen Campbell

Pages: 128 Pages

The Blurb

‘Can books conduct electricity?’ ‘My children are just climbing your bookshelves: that’s ok… isn’t it?’ A John Cleese Twitter question [‘What is your pet peeve?’], first sparked the “Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops” blog, which grew over three years into one bookseller’s collection of ridiculous conversations on the shop floor. From ‘Did Beatrix Potter ever write a book about dinosaurs?’ to the hunt for a paperback which could forecast the next year’s weather; and from ‘I’ve forgotten my glasses, please read me the first chapter’ to’Excuse me… is this book edible?’ This full-length collection illustrated by the Brothers McLeod also includes top ‘Weird Things’ from bookshops around the world.

The Review

I have to admit this; I have been one of those weird customers asking weird questions. Well not really weird. My question was at least book related. I was one of those typical “I want a book; it has a white cover and little speckles of ticker tape one it. I don’t know who it is by or what it is called but it looks good. Do you have it?”*

I think we have all been that person at some point.

In Jen Campbell’s wonderful Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops we get to read about all sorts of odd and random questions. It really is remarkably funny. Within a matter of pages I was chuckling away to myself, eliciting funny looks from family members as I tried to be social (for me that is sitting in a room reading rather than sitting upstairs alone reading).

This is a light read that is actually a rather genius concept. Anyone who has ever worked in retail has stories like this. I once worked in a call centre and the things that the customers used to ask my friends and me were hilarious. Bravo to Jen Campbell for actually collating all of these and releasing the quirky little anecdotes. I, for one, absolutely loved this collection and will be buying the sequel More Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops.

* It was A Million Little Pieces by James Frey. No one knew what the book was but I happened to come across it in a second hand furniture shop sitting by itself on a bookshelf. I believe it was fate.

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell is available now.

Follow Jen Campbell (@aeroplanegirl) on Twitter.

The Blurb

From Congressman Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” gaffe to the high school rapists of Steubenville, Ohio, to the furor at Vanderbilt, sexual violence has been so prominent in recent years that the feminist term “rape culture” has finally entered the mainstream. But what, exactly, is it? And how do we change it?

In Asking for It, Kate Harding answers those questions in the same blunt, bullshit-free voice that has made her a powerhouse feminist blogger. Combining in-depth research with practical knowledge, Asking for It makes the case that twenty-first-century America—where it’s estimated that out of every 100 rapes only 5 result in felony convictions—supports rapists more effectively than victims. Harding offers ideas and suggestions for how we, as a culture, can take rape much more seriously without compromising the rights of the accused.

The Review

I have many reasons to be thankful for this book. Firstly, it opened my eyes to a harrowing world that I have fortunately never been witness or victim to; secondly, it has been a damn good read and thirdly (and quite frankly, most importantly) it highlighted that I too am guilty of some of the negative responses to rape that feature in this book and it has therefore made me change my opinion.

Asking For It, or to give the book its full title Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding is a study of the perceptions that we as society have about rape. Much to my shame, I have to admit that I have said on nights out that a girl wearing a short outfit or walking alone that she should have been more careful or maybe covered up a bit more. After reading this I am ashamed of my comments and beliefs. Just because someone wears an outfit that others would deem as provocative does not constitute her being “fair game” or “up for it.”

I do believe that we have to be careful and protect ourselves but the fact that I have to think like that is shocking. The statistics and figures that feature in this book make you realise what an epidemic (and believe me when I say epidemic) crimes of a sexual nature are.

This book is (and should be a harrowing read) however, Kate Harding does lighten the load by making a mockery of the presumed notions and consistent fallacies that are believed about rape which does make some of the more harrowing passages less difficult to read.

Everyone should read this book if only for a new perspective. I was extremely naïve and uneducated – I still am, one book hasn’t changed that fact – however, I do feel that I have more of an insight into this contentious subject matter now that I have read Asking For It.

Believe me when I say that this is an important book.

Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture and What We Can Do About It by Kate Harding is available now.

Follow Kate Harding (@KateHarding) on Twitter.

Asking For It Kate Harding

The Blurb

How To Be Parisian brilliantly deconstructs the French woman’s views on culture, fashion and attitude.

Bohemian free-thinkers and iconoclasts, Anne Berest, Caroline De Maigret, Audrey Diwan and Sophie Mas cut through the myths in this gorgeous, witty guide to Parisienne savoir faire.

These modern Parisiennes say what you don’t expect to hear, just the way you want to hear it. They are not against smoking in bed, and all for art, politics and culture, making everything look easy, and going against the grain. They will take you on a first date, to a party and through a hangover. They will tell you how to be mysterious and sensual, make your boyfriend jealous, the right way to approach weddings and the gym, and they will share their address book in Paris for where to go at the end of the night, for a birthday, for a smart date, for vintage finds and much more.

Full of wit and self-deprecating humour, How To Be Parisian explains those confusing subjects of clothes, makeup, men, culture and lifestyle as only a true Parisienne can.

The Review

Anyone who knows me will know that I have been having a serious love affair with Paris for pretty much the entire length of my existence. I’ve travelled (not extensively) but I have yet to travel to a place which has the same style of class and attitude and sexiness as Paris does. Therefore, me reading a book on how to be Parisian seemed such a natural fit.

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are is sharp, sassy and poetic about the life of Parisian women; it debunks myths that we may have believed about the way they live their lives but equally enforces some of these “clichés.” The themes travel from love to fashion to food among a plethora of other things. It all comes across with a dismissive air that somehow fits the Parisian outlook. In total, it is just rather wonderful.

This is a must for those who like to travel; those who like style and class; and for those avid Francophiles out there.

How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are by Sophie Mas, Audrey Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Anne Berest is available now.

How to be Parisian