Book Review | How to Make a French Family: A Memoir of Love, Food, and Faux Pas by Samantha Verant

frenchfamAuthour:
Samantha Verant
Format:
e-Galley
Publication date:
April 1st 2017
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
What happens after you reunite with the Frenchman you fell in love with 20 years ago, and the two of you marry in a romantic, fairy tale California wedding? In Samantha Vérant’s How to Make a French Family we learn what happens after she marries the love of her life and moves to southwestern France to live with him and his two young children.

What I love with regards to How to Make a French Family is that Vérant doesn’t sugarcoat things concerning the various difficulties she has initially with adjusting to life in a foreign country in addition to her role as a step-mother. She faces resistance, isolation loneliness and the occasional humiliation (due to the odd unintentional language faux pas) and yet gradually she learns to adjust to her new life in France all while making a couple of new friends too. Through it all, Vérant draws you into her world with her gorgeous prose and teleports you along her in moments of both sadness and joy.

What’s also interesting in this book is that the author tells us the story of how her first memoir, Seven Letters from Paris came to be. For those who are interested in publishing, it’s an interesting glimpse at one way of how a book can come about. And for those of you who haven’t read Seven Letters from Paris I highly recommend that you pick it up. In fact, before starting How to Make a French Family I picked up Seven Letters from Paris again and it remained just as excellent of a read as I remember.

In Seven Letters from Paris, my favourite parts were of Samantha and Jean-Luc interacting with each other and rekindling their romance from when they were young. However, in How to Make a French Family I adored reading the moments where she interact with her stepchildren and how she forms a bond with them. This is especially heartwarming given the children’s volatile and mistrustful relationship with their last stepmother.

As a person who loves travel and food, this book was a pleasure to read. Food plays a major role in How to Make a French Family and Vérant provides readers with recipes of dishes that she or her family members/friends have made that were mentioned in the book. Once again, Vérant has written another gem that has you cheering her on as she tackles her challenge of “how to make a French family”.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

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Book Review | Seven Letters from Paris by Samantha Verant

7letterAuthour:
Samantha Verant
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 258 pages
Publication date:
October 7th 2014
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
I love a good love story especially ones that involve travel of some kind, and it’s even better if the story is one that actually happened as there is a serious lack of epic love stories in my real life. (No offence intended to anyone I know who may be reading this)

What I loved regarding Seven Letters from Paris is that it is such a delightful story of romance, missed opportunities and second chances. It is a book that is fairly reminiscent to the YA novel, Just One Day by Gayle Forman which I adore with the exception that there are a few twists one of which is that the book is a memoir of the authour’s real life fairy tale romance. Seven Letters from Paris concerns a disillusioned woman who is nearing forty who is recently separated from her husband and broke. As she tries to figure out where she went wrong in her life, she comes across seven love letters written to her from a handsome French scientist whom she met and got to be acquainted with for only a day when she was nineteen. She subsequently decides to take a risk and attempt to find him, and the rest of the book details her adventures that come once the two reconnect.

Throughout it all the writing is simple and crisp, and the story was certainly engrossing. My favourite component of this book however was the fact that all seven of Jean-Luc’s (the French scientist) love letters were included in this book. It added a charming touch to the story especially given how significant of a role they played in the book. Occasionally the truth can be even better and more interesting than fiction, and this book was an example of this.

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | Paris Letters by Janice Macleod

Authour:parisletter
Janice Macleod
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 258 pages
Publication date:
February 4th 2014
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
This was the second memoir I read that was set in Paris but Paris Letters is definitely a much different story than We’ll Always Have Paris. Here we have a young woman who finds herself disillusioned with her day job as a copywriter in an advertising agency. Eventually she figures out a way to put aside enough money so that she could get by without working for a bit. These are outlined in a list which is included in the back of the book and includes things like selling her finished paintings, using all her free samples and inviting friends to go for hikes, coffee or frozen yogurt instead of waiting for them to invite her out to eat at an expensive restaurant. Of course this works and she is able to finally quit her job and travel.

I loved the travel elements in this memoir mostly because I can absolutely relate to some of her fish out of water experiences, as my knowledge of French pretty much consists of what I learned up until first year of college. I also loved that the author was Canadian as it makes her story at least initially more relatable.

Fittingly as the story takes place in Paris, France there is some romance in this book as Janice meets Christophe, a French speaking Polish butcher who she says kind of looks like Daniel Craig. I thought the way Janice relates their encounters and interactions with each other were really cute.

Paris Letters is a beautiful book both in its story as well as the many watercolour illustrations included in the book, and although they are in black and white, the cover is however in colour and it is gorgeous. I love how Janice comes up with the idea to create handwritten letters with beautiful illustrations about her life in Paris to fund her life in Paris. And to be honest I kind of want one now.

This travel memoir is a perfect read for both those who are a bit of a hopeless romantic as well as those who want to redesign their lives and fancy themselves as artists or some kind of creative person. Without a doubt I want to travel to Paris even more after reading this book.

If you like this book, you’ll love: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.

Book Review | We’ll Always Have Paris: A Mother/Daughter Adventure by Jennifer Coburn

Authour:alwaysparis
Jennifer Coburn
Format:
Advance Reader Copy, 376 pages
Publication date:
April 8th 2014
Publisher:
Sourcebooks
Source:
Received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review:
We’ll Always Have Paris may not have much romance in it but it is definitely a story of love in particular family love. This is much more than a Paris travelogue as the memoir details all the various trips that Jennifer takes with her daughter Katie as Katie grows up. They not only travel to Paris but to many other European cities like Rome, London and Barcelona. Initially I couldn’t relate to either Jennifer or Katie, the latter being only a child at the start of the book I was able to relate to some of their experiences later as Katie got older. I loved seeing all the different places they visited and what they did there, and this book made me really want to travel right away with my mom to visit all the sites in the book including Shakespeare and Co. I had no idea that travelers could stay above the shop overnight if they worked a few hours a day at the bookstore, which was interesting. There were so many interesting travel tidbits throughout the book which made it feel like a sort of travel guide on top of being a memoir.

The travel aspect of the book was something that I expected given the title, but what I did not expect was the exploration into Jennifer’s past in particular the life of her father, who was one of the songwriters of the song, “Only A Fool Breaks His Own Heart”. Though it ran secondary to the travel parts, it was still a very essential part of this memoir. It is through the relationship that Jennifer has with her father that shapes who she is as an adult this includes of course her anxieties about dying. So while this book was not what I was expecting, it was a very touching and interesting read. We’ll Always Have Paris does a good job of exploring how one woman deals with the death of her parent and the trauma associated with it, as well it does an excellent job of illustrating the magic of traveling together as a family and how it can strengthen bonds and bring parents closer to their children.

If you like this book, you’ll love: The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe

Regardless of how this book came into my possession, the above review consists of my honest opinion of the book and my opinion only.