Cover Image: Beginning French

Beginning French

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Member Reviews

What a delightful read! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The humour and warmth wrapped around the challenges of owning an old home/property thousands of miles away was so well described in the anecdotes of each chapter.  This book demonstrates the value and necessity of family and social support necessary to turn challenging experiences around and embrace the beautiful moments presented to us in nature and with other people. I would highly recommend this book!
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Ever since high school I have loves learning french. This was an interesting book about little cities. The recipes were really good looking and I added some to my to try list.
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What happens when you buy a "charming" but semi-crumbling cottage in France and only know a little French?  You get this charming book about Eileen and Marty's experience.  Even with all the things that go wrong, and the trials and tribulations, you will still be envious and wish you too were living in rural France.

The lovely recipes also add a charm to this book.  Thank you Netgalley and Les Americains for the copy!
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This is a charming book about a California couple who buy a house in rural France.  Between the home repairs that seem never-ending and trying to navigate French language , food and culture, there is plenty in this little book that will amuse and will have you wanting to run away to France. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Peter Mayle and Frances Mayes or anyone wanting to be whisked away to France, without ever leaving their home.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this delightful book..
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As someone studying French and looking forward to splitting retirement between France and the US, I thoroughly  enjoyed this book. 

Learning French words and sayings in context was a nice touch and the escapades of purchasing a 400 year old home really puts you in their shoes. 

A lovely story that left me wanting more! Where are they now? Hopeful for a follow up memoir in the future.
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I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book and at first I was not loving it, maybe reminding me too much of high school French classes! However, this is the story of an American couple who have wanted to experience life in the French countryside and up and decide to purchase a rural home in France. There are so many wonderful experiences to be had and many challenges. This is sort of that vicarious dream that we often have of relocating to a completely different country, just for the experience and romantic nature of it. One of my children just did a world wind trip to France for the first time and reading this as I followed the trip was especially entertaining. I came to enjoy the bits of the French language throughout the book.
Recommend for those wishing to vicariously travel and experience another country.
#BeginningFrench #NetGalley #LesAmericains
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This was a delightful read. Marty and Eileen are a couple from California who purchase a house in the French countryside. The story, written by the couple, tells the ups and downs of owning a old house in another country. I loved living vicariously through them. An added bonus were recipes from their daughter, Sara (and her friend), sprinkled throughout the book. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this book.
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This is a must read for those who dream of picking up and moving to another country, for fans of Escape to the Château or Escape to the Château DIY, or for Francophiles. This is a memoir of an American couple, and their grown daughter, who buy a cottage in France. It tells of the experiences one gets in the France that is not Paris and of the issues that one may encounter trying to maintain a household in another culture. This book continues to encourage my retirement dream of buying a house in France!
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I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Overall the book wasn't for me. I had a hard time understanding the writing style. Eileen and Marty wrote the book together and it alternates their perspectives, but it's not always clear who is writing what which feels odd. The book is about their purchase of a farmhouse in France and learning how to dance and going to night markets, but it also delves into their marriage and fights. It feels like there's a lot of context missing and clarity and suddenly they're at odds with no real build up and no real resolution.

And while some of the stories are endearing and some of the recipes seem delightful, they also seem to at times be making fun of French culture. They're the ones who chose to move to France without learning French! They also seem to emphasize how they're really not rich and the farmhouse is so much work and is in shambles, but also it's incredible and the best thing they ever did which felt like a conflicting message. 

While not for me, I can see why others might enjoy this.
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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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