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The Secret Life of France
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The Secret Life of France [Format Kindle]

Lucy Wadham
4.3 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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Descriptions du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

Lucy Wadham's first work of non-fiction is a candid and funny account of her long and tumultuous love affair with France, her adoptive land. At the age of eighteen Wadham ran away from English boys - who she found emotionally immature and sexually unconfident - and into the arms of a Frenchman. She soon discovered that romantic relationships in France were fraught with their own set of problems: not only do the French put women on a pedestal, but both sexes are required to act out the sort of seduction games that disappeared from English society centuries ago. Wadham, who dressed in Doc Martens and baggy jumpers, struggled to fit in . . .

Twenty-five years later, having married in a French Catholic church, put her children through the French education system and divorced in a French court of law, Wadham examines the profound and varied differences between the Anglo-Saxon and French worldviews. Using her own experience, as a wife and mother, and later as an investigative journalist for the BBC, Wadham explores French attitudes towards sex, marriage, adultery, money, work, happiness, war and race, and in so doing reveals much about our own priorities and the nature of our identity.

The Secret Life of France challenges our preconceptions and debunks many of the myths - bleak and rosy - on which our view of France rests. Might we have something to learn from this most infuriating and contrary neighbour?

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4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Thumbs down, sorry Lucy! 15 janvier 2011
I was really looking forward to reading this book, I enjoy Lucy's style of writing normally, but I am afraid it's a big thumbs down for this one, and I feel she dwelled far to much on the political life of France of years gone by. I thought the book would be lighter and more to do with life in France, of normal people like the plumber or the baker, or the little old lady whose husband died years ago who will talk forever if you offer her a glass of wine.

I have lived in France for over seven years and I too have a child in school and not everyone is pre-occupied with religion and politics. I have only ever been to Paris once for the day and that was enough for me, I hate cities.

Though some things she wrote made me smile like the 'yaourt' and yes some of the people in the offices of les Impots need to lighten up, and why do I always get the cantankerous fifty year old who thinks I'm stupid because I can't explain myself as eloquently as she thinks I should over the telephone. I feel like replying in English, I speak three languages and you how many do you speak?

It won't put me off buying Lucy's novels but I won't buy another biographical sorry Lucy!
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent 4 juillet 2011
Coming from someone who has lived permanently in France since 1990, this is well written, intelligent, perceptive and sometimes very funny, anyone who has lived or is planning on living in France should read this. Highly recommended. Should be translated into French so that they can read it as well.
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent ! 30 septembre 2011
Par DavidB
Tip-Top ! I haven't read a book on France this good since 'The Discovery of France' (Robb), which is a must-read BTW. Highly recommended.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.6 étoiles sur 5  18 commentaires
24 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 TO STAY OR NOT TO STAY 1 septembre 2009
Par DAVID BRYSON - Publié sur
That was the question that faced Lucy Lemoine (nee Wadham unless that is just a nom de guerre) when she ended her 20-year marriage to a Frenchman. She had to decide whether it was nobler in the mind to suffer the talk and habits of outrageous Frenchmen or to pull up stumps and cross the sea to England, and maybe find that better. She had actually once gone along to apply for French citizenship, and had been so appalled by the rudeness of the civil servant she encountered that she changed her mind on the spot. However when it came to the later decision she elected to stay in France after all, although significantly not in Paris.

Myself, I have been to France ten or eleven times, including my honeymoon in Corsica, but reading this book makes me think I probably know the place better from television and maybe a few films than from my stays there. Nothing Lucy Wadham says about France or the French surprises me, and although my knowledge of it all seems somehow second-hand I think I can understand to a fair extent what she is talking about. She starts her narration where she ought to start it as a young woman, with the relations between the sexes, partly but not mainly her own experiences. I am not going to précis her findings: I shall say only that she has a very interesting slant not only on the work/life balance of the French but on the balance between their commitment to marriage, their adherence or otherwise to Catholic moral teaching, and their attitude to sexual relations generally. A lot of the interest of this part of the book may be unintentional, by giving us insights into her own mental and emotional processes. She is obviously very sharp and analytical, for instance, but if the word `love' occurs at all in this context I think I must have missed it.

One very interesting, and for me quite persuasive, insight is her opinion that the French are hidebound in their inherited traditions from 1789 and also in a self-deceiving mythology about themselves. This point the author illustrates from so many different angles that I can't help being drawn into her mindset. She sees herself as freethinking and independent-minded, and I would call that realistic on the evidence here and not a pose or auto-suggestion. Being of this way of thinking clearly creates communication barriers with the French, and Lucy Wadham does not quite convict the French national mindset of outright escapism, but she seems to me to come very near to it.

The book covers a wide spectrum of cultural and political issues, and with one exception I found myself keenly interested in Lucy Wadham's take on them. The exception occurs near the end, and that may have something to do with the matter, say a deadline to meet that did not help her concentration and focus. I really thought that the chatter about M Sarkozy as something called a `sexual dwarf' was a right load of rubbish, but perhaps I ought to reread the passage in due course. One way or another it is not significant enough to influence the rating I am prepared to give this thoroughly intelligent, fair-minded, readable and enjoyable volume. What really impresses me is that not only does the book address so many difficult and contentious topics with gusto and insight, it even provides, on page 64, nothing less than `the key to the French identity'. Short of identifying The Meaning of Life, I think this is as lofty and ambitious a generalisation as I have encountered in many years.

To me a theme of this kind, when attacked with so much mental grip and expressed with such lucidity, is far more interesting and involving than many a novel. I gather the author is a novelist, although this is the first time I have encountered her work. On this showing it will not be the last time.
12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Author, "GETS IT" 18 décembre 2011
Par Rod de Paris - Publié sur
First of all I live in Paris, so when a friend recommended this book to me, which by the way there are thousands of books about Paris and/or France, I was hesitant. I thought for sure it was going to be another one of those books where someone comes for a short visit or stay and become experts on French society. Especially Francophiles who view France through rose tinted glasses as if it were some kind of utopia because of all the clichés. Living here versus visiting here so incredibly DIFFERENT. It takes years to get into the French psyché to understand all the social mores and attitudes of their culture and its people. I was pleasantly surprised the author "got it," warts and all. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bash France book, but takes a long hard look at, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I have a love/hate relationship with Paris as most Parisians do, but something definitely pulls me to her... Excellent book, the author did an excellent job of capturing life in France from an ex-pats point of view. Note: you haven't gone through the rites of passage until you experience the "Prefecture." It's sort of like "psychological hazing."
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Now I understand them! 1 février 2010
Par J. Dugan - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I have been living in France for 6 years and have frequently wondered about their behavior and their tendency to do things "en masse". They are a very particular race of people and Ms. Wadham does a great job of laying out the case for their complex and often irritating behaviors. She writes very well, the book is an easy and entertaining read- I found myself saying "Aha" and also laughing out loud at her characterizations. A must buy for anyone thinking of living here or any Francophile.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 FRANCE & ITS "SECRET GARDENS" 29 janvier 2012
Par MONTGOMERY - Publié sur
As a confirmed Francophile, I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS BOOK, from which I learned so much more about the cultural mores of France.

Wadham herself had been married to a Frenchman for close to 20 years, with whom she had 4 children (all of them educated in the French educational system), and, though divorced, continues to live and work in France. While shedding insight into French attitudes toward religion, politics, education, race, relationships, history (France continues to be very conflicted about its wartime behavior under the German Occupation), the French language, the law, and the nation itself, she intersperses the book with some of her own experiences with her French family and friends, which also gives the book the feel of a diary and an anthropological case study. Further, Wadham's contrasts of French attitudes with comparable Anglo Saxon cultural norms and practices (as exemplified by Britain and America) I found both startling and intriguing.

(I have twice visited Paris, and though my French is very far from fluent, I had not met with any outward shows of derision or contempt from any Parisians I encountered during my daily pereginations in the city.)

For the reader of this review, I'd like to cite 2 passages from the book, which may give you food for thought ---

"Television is [for the British] ... a medium naturally given to the worship of reality. In line with our love of reality and our taste for the comic over the tragic, the British are excellent watchers and makers of television. The French, on the other hand, with their love of grand ideas and their contempt for reality, make execrable television. Hours of French airtime are devoted to the spectacle of people (anybody will do) sitting around discussing ideas. There is none of the British mistrust of 'talking heads'. Talking heads are seen as a good thing in France, and the louder they talk the better."

"It is strange to me to watch my own children struggling, for the first time, with the very facets of their own culture that I found so infuriating when I first arrived twenty-three years ago. While they were growing up, I was blind to my own influence upon them. They seemed to me so wonderfully French that I would never have guessed that their Englishness would one day come and bite me on the bottom. Now that they're getting ready to leave for England, I find myself buried so deeply in this culture that I doubt I can ever escape it. France has swallowed me up, but not my children.

"My relationship with France began with my relationship with Laurent. When the marriage ended, I assumed that my link to France would lessen in intensity. I was no longer speaking French all hours of the day, dreaming in French, arguing in French, loving in French. I thought I was no longer bound to this place. My children were grown up, so I could now choose: England or France. And then I discovered that I didn't want to leave. I know France now and in knowing her, I love her. Like the long-suffering spouse who realises, after all those years, that in spite of everything, there is no one in the world she would rather be with. I adore and despise this country in equal measure."
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Beady-eyed English view of life in France. 12 mars 2011
Par trapezoid - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
As an American who's visited France over many years, I savored this book. The English author writes entertainingly and perceptively and personally, and that's what raises it above the run-of-the-mill books about France. As a young English student, she marries a Frenchman and raises a family in France, so it's an in-depth experience she's reflecting on, almost a memoir. And she is well-grounded in her own solid, protestant English culture, so views French posturing and pleasure-seeking with a gently-raised eyebrow. A fun read.
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