Review: When in French
Lauren Collins grew up in North Carolina with a fairly limited view of the world. She was filled with wanderlust, though, and, as an adult, she found herself living abroad. While she was living in London, she met and fell in love with a Frenchman named Olivier. They married and moved to Geneva. Collins struggled to fit into her new home and felt that,
Without language, my world diminished.
She decided she needed to learn French in order to embrace her new home and communicate better with her new husband and family.
Lauren Collins recounts her experience of learning French in her well written memoir WHEN IN FRENCH: LOVE IN A SECOND LANGUAGE. Collins’ husband Olivier had been living in Geneva for a year and a half and she joined him after their marriage. Since she didn’t speak the language she relied on him which was difficult because he worked long hours. Feeling lost and lonely in her new country and determined to do something about it, she set out to learn French, which was something I could relate to. I know how it feels to be an outsider in the country you live in but I was not as successful as Collins at learning French.
Interwoven in the story are tidbits on linguistics and language that Collins discovered on her journey giving this memoir a unique twist that will appeal to those who love words.
I started WHEN IN FRENCH on audio but it just wasn’t working for me that way. It’s not that Khristine Hvam didn’t do a good job with the narration – it’s just that, for me, it didn’t translate well to audio. I found the linguistics aspects hard to follow until I switched to print. Once I switched to print, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the book. If you enjoy memoirs or language, be sure to pick up WHEN IN FRENCH!