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Review: When in French

November 3, 2016


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!

Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2016 7:09 am

    Maybe that was my problem. I started it on audio and didn’t want to keep going.

  2. bookingmama permalink
    November 3, 2016 7:12 am

    Interesting that you and Jill both had the same reaction to the audio. I thought this book might resonate with you — I’m glad you enjoyed it more in print.

  3. November 3, 2016 7:28 am

    I have this one in print and can’t wait to read it. Sounds like such an interesting and fun read. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much 🙂

  4. November 3, 2016 7:40 am

    I’d read this memoir because I’m always curious about learning a new language as an adult. I think that would be challenging but if you’re living in the country where that language is spoken it could be a bit easier?

  5. November 3, 2016 9:29 am

    It seems like a book that that so many people can relate to, but never thought to write.

  6. November 3, 2016 11:20 am

    I never listen to books, and I don’t see that changing….but this one, in the written form, does sound tempting. I can imagine the challenges of learning a new language in adulthood.

    My eldest son has been living in various European countries since the 1990s…and, while many of his countries speak English, he somehow has picked up enough of the various languages to get by very well. (German, Czech). Sadly, I think I would struggle.

    This book might be a way to see how others navigate the language barriers. Thanks for sharing.

  7. November 3, 2016 11:43 am

    I can’t imagine what it would be like to live somewhere and not know the language. It would be okay for awhile but I know for me, I’d feel so isolated by it.

  8. November 3, 2016 12:59 pm

    I haven’t decided to read this yet but if I do I’ll read the print version.

  9. November 3, 2016 2:19 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this one. It sounds interesting to me. I would go with the print version, too (well, I don’t listen to many audio books). Terrific review!

  10. November 3, 2016 3:27 pm

    This sounds like a book I’d enjoy. I’ll look for a print copy though.

  11. Patty permalink
    November 3, 2016 3:56 pm

    It sounds lovely!

  12. November 3, 2016 4:46 pm

    Better in print then

  13. November 4, 2016 12:22 pm

    I’d love to live abroad, so this sounds worth checking out!

  14. November 4, 2016 2:18 pm

    I think this would be hard to listen to on audio and keep up with the linguistics stuff. I think it would be better in print. Ah living abroad…that’s a dream

  15. November 4, 2016 3:49 pm

    French is the language I most want to learn. I wish I had someone to speak it with. This book sure sounds wonderful

  16. November 6, 2016 7:32 am

    This sounds like an interesting memoir. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to live in a country where I didn’t know the language.

  17. The Cue Card permalink
    November 6, 2016 5:11 pm

    Gosh I wish I was a foreign language person and could pick them up easily, but that’s not the case unfortunately. This memoir does sound interesting. I can relate to her struggles.

  18. November 6, 2016 9:13 pm

    I wish I could speak French well! In France, people usually respond to me in English when I try to speak French, lol. This sounds like a good book.

  19. November 18, 2016 9:54 pm

    I have such a tin ear when trying to learn other languages. I’ve always envied people who can pick them up easily.

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