Cover Image: Beginning French

Beginning French

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Member Reviews

Beginning French has a few amusing tales, but the author seems quite tone deaf, unless he has a small demographic he believes is interested in the book.  The tone feels superior, its amusement of the French which feels mocking, and part in their financial position that is mentioned numerous times. I stopped reading when the author jokes at his inability to resist flirting with beautiful women.  Gross and uncomfortable.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC for an honest opinion.
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Beginning French is a very charming story that I quite enjoyed reading. 

This is the wry and witty memoir of les Américains, Eileen and Marty, joined by their chef-daughter Sara. Their dream of being French leads them into uncharted territory where "oh la la" takes on a whole different meaning.

Highly recommend
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One of the reviews at the start of this book said "Move over, Peter Mayle" - as in the author of A Year in Provence, 

To which I can only say: uh, no. 

Look, this is an enjoyable enough story. I've just watched several episodes of a show where people buy a French chateau and renovate it, so clearly I like the genre of doing things like that. But the thing that Mayle did was very clearly situate himself within his village: while he takes part in many of the amusing adventures he recounts, he's not necessarily the focus. Mayle makes it clear how much he loves the place and the people. 

Now, Les Americains are admittedly different because they don't live in their house; they come for maybe a couple of months a year. But the people they mostly interact with are other foreigners (a lack of French is a problem here, too), and the focus of the book is the relationship of the couple, and their own personal experience. It's just not the same as trying to explain or explore a village to a readership who will never get to live there. 

There's also a "Lunch in Paris" vibe where the couple's daughter, a chef, provides recipes for some of the food they eat. This is a nice aspect but the food never felt quite central enough to the story to make this feel like a compelling addition. 

Did I finish the book? yes. Am I dying for more information about how this couple spends their holidays? No. And it might just be me but I find it hard to take seriously anyone who takes their pet overseas, and then acts like the pet is a human.
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‘Beginning French’ is about a dream. A dream is only a wish, a light sketch of a possibility. Yet some dreams turn out to be the meaning of your life. What do you want your life to be? How big a world do you want to live in? How much do you want to discover who you’ll become? 

Here you’ll become a part of the stops and starts of finding and buying a stone cottage in southwest France and turning it into a home along with several ‘cauchemar’ (nightmares) along the way. 

You can armchair travel: interact with the locals, taste the legendary cuisine, learn to play boules, eat at a night market, and visit the Lascaux caves, a magnificent gallery of 16,000-year-old prehistoric paintings.

Far from the glamour of Paris, situated in the Dordogne, just south of Bergerac, Le Reve (‘The Dream’), a 400-hundred-year old cottage, is about to become Eileen McKenna, Marty Neumeier, and their daughter Sara’s home away from home, their true dream.

“Farmhouse chic,” said the ad. “Completely restored maison de charme near Issigeac.” Magazine quality photographs showed a stone house with a lap pool, a high ceilinged salon, a stone barn, and a 30-mile view from the terrace. “Only ten minutes from the Bergerac airport,” the copy said. The area around the town of Bergerac is a cozy patchwork of vines, villages, forests, and farms. Could it be more perfect?

I like to think of Peter Mayle, Joanne Harris, Marita van der Vyver and Tessa Kiros joining Marty, Eileen and Sara on the stone terrace sharing a meal of roasted figs with goat cheese, wrapped in pancetta; tomato peach salad; mussels with almonds, and a light lemon tart paired with espresso. The wines would move effortlessly from champagne to sauvignon blanc to Bergerac sec and to pinot noir. 

They would reminisce over their first days in rural France, no matter the region, and their laughter would echo into the night. La vie est belle!

A huge thank you to @NetGalley and  les Américains for a review copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This is in the realm of Frances Mayes and makes me very envious (the only time Americans make me feel envious) that you can just up and go and buy a farmhouse and live without visa issues (or rather visa issues that can be sorted out!) and have the best of both worlds.

Eileen and Marty first took French lessons. Eileen persevered and was good at it and Marty failed! then they thought about a house in France and they did it. They bought a dilapidated stone farm house and the story of their travails of one of them at a time attending to the million things that old houses entail including a burst boiler and the destruction it resulted in amongst many others. At the end they did have a beautiful second home, memories and a place to call home.

Excellent story telling skills made this memoir really good reading.
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Beginning French – Les Americains
A true delight to read.
This book combines the ‘living the dream’ we all imagine and hope for, with a good dose of reality plus some quirky features such as recipes for dishes and drinks mentioned throughout.  I’ve yet to try any of these out but I do plan on doing so!
I enjoyed the storytelling and sense of community and camaraderie developed through the narrative and the travel and exploration of the area surrounding ‘La Reve’.
Being a linguist I was also very amused by the learning of French and the various capers that this leads to for the family. 
Overall very easy to ‘got lost in’ and relax whilst reading. Probably the perfect holiday book for many or the ‘lockdown escape’ for those who won’t be travelling for a while yet.
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The lemon cheesecake recipe alone is enough reason to recommend the chaotic but collaborative effort on display in this insightful collection. Food and France pair well with a surprising book that is part how-to, part memoir, and part family adventure.
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As a Francophile, I love anything French. I love learning about ex-patriots moving and restoring cottages/estates in the French countryside. It's a dream of mine to do the same, but I know I'll only live vicariously through these stories, written by people who actually have the guts to give up everything in America and move to France with hopes of learning the language, socializing with their new neighbors, and learning how to navigate a different way of doing things, especially in a new language. This was an interesting memoir, honest and raw. I don't think it prompted me to leave it all in my country and current state, but it gave me a lot to consider. 
Thank you to the publisher, author and Netgalley for the opportunity to review in exchange for a review copy.
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Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. 
I really wanted to like this book. The premise seemed great but it was not my cup of tea. I couldn’t connect with the characters but it did make me want to visit the locations.
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A delightful and light memoir that includes travel, food, people and lifestyle. This is the cheerful, and witty tale of an American couple in a picturesque French farmhouse. Their experiences are narrated in a very warm, lighthearted tone making it very entertaining.
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This is another of those I bought a house in France books.  Well written, amusing, interesting recipes at the end of many chapters.  I devoured it quickly, laughing out loud as the house got its own revenge (which I am familiar with, owning two old houses, one built in 1819, the other 1860).  I was disappointed that the website does not seem to exist (anymore)?

Thank you to the publisher who lent me a time-limited e-arc via Netgalley.  This review is optional and my own opinion.
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Delightfully fun, this memoire had me laughing on several occasions, especially at the beginning when the main characters, Marty and Eileen, arrive exhausted and wondering why they keep torturing themselves with these grandiose adventures. 
Thankfully, they wrote down why along with many of the other adventures they go on as they learn more of a country they had absolutely no ties to. 
This book only reignited my love to travel, but in the meantime, stories like this help me mentally escape to the beautiful French countryside.
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Totally loved this story of a couple who moves to France and buys a farmhouse. You can just imagine all the things that happen in their attempts to renovate the farmhouse, learn the language to a degree where they can all speak fluently, and much more. Highly recommend this one!
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Thanks to NetGalley for providing me with this ARC. I loved Peter Mayle’s books and his experiences in Provence and was looking forward to a similar experience. This short book started with an American couple buying a 400 yr old house in rural France. They only were in residence in the summers and had to hire locals to do a lot of renovations. Their daughter, Sara, is a chef and she visited often, giving them an opportunity to include a lot of recipes, none of which I have a desire to replicate. A lot of the book was about a spat the couple had. I feel it would have been better to wait another five years or so to write this so more interesting experiences could be added and some of the trivial ones left out.
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Traveler? Check. Foodie? Check. Francophile? Huge Check! This was definitely a book tailor made for my tastes. I enjoyed living vicariously through Eileen and Marty and their daughter as they welcomed us into their vacation home in a remote part of France through this memoir. They shared the good, the bad, and the ugly because owning a second home across the ocean isn't all butterflied and rainbows (those home improvements though! I can certainly relate as we have had to do a major remodel at our home this year...I can not imagine having to deal with that in another country at a second home!) but in the end I think Mary and Eileen wouldn't have it any other way. If I were ever to have a second home elsewhere France would probably be the place. I love that their neighbors welcomed them with open arms and that even when there is a language barrier, communication is still able to happen somehow or another. I truly loved this memoir. Definitely read this one is you're missing traveling this year, particularly like me if you were supposed to be in France this year. It's not the same thing, but it's a nice hold over until I can be in the city of love once again.
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At the end of chapter 17, the reader is instructed to visit for recipes but when I type that into a browser, the domain name is for sale.
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This book lived up to all my expectations--and more. A charming look at the lives of an ex-pat couple who make a new life for themselves in France. The hurdles were tremendous but they overcame each obstacle to move forward with their dream. For anyone who has ever fantasized about moving to France, this is the book for you. Highly recommend, you will love it.
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This was a great book to read, especially since I am very interested in what life aboard would be like.  I loved the environment development of this book and how well the characters were written and placed within the story.  This was a great read!
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Marty and Eileen are living my dream! For someone who regularly researches cottages for sale in France, this book was a perfect fit. I enjoyed reading about their experience fixing up a 400-year-old cottage and their honestly about the difficulty that brings with it. Very enjoyable book!
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A fun book about an American couple, Eileen and Marty, who decide to purchase a country home (that needs some love), and embark on the mission to become French. It is full of fun adventures, stories, and even recipes (mainly from their daughter Sara who is apparently an amazing chef - I have not yet tried and of the recipes but they look delicious). Honestly this book grew on me. It is not my usual style of book, and it took a while for me to get into it, but I found I slowly started to feel like these were people I know. There is definitely some comedy,  sticky situations, and ups and downs. And reading about the French country, the food, and  is simply magical. If you are a lover of France or French cuisine this is a book for you. 

I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are all my own.
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