Paperback, 266 pages
Published: September 16th 2014 by Algonquin Books
ISBN: 1616200200 (ISBN13: 9781616200206)
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*Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the publisher. This in no way effects my rating.
“A delightful and courageous tale and a romping good read.Voila!” —Mark Greenside, author of I’ll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do)
William Alexander is more than a Francophile. He wants to be French. There’s one small obstacle though: he doesn’t speak la langue française. In Flirting with French, Alexander sets out to conquer the language he loves. But will it love him back?
Alexander eats, breathes, and sleeps French (even conjugating in his dreams). He travels to France, where mistranslations send him bicycling off in all sorts of wrong directions, and he nearly drowns in an immersion class in Provence, where, faced with the riddle of masculine breasts, feminine beards, and a turkey cutlet of uncertain gender, he starts to wonder whether he should’ve taken up golf instead of French. While playing hooky from grammar lessons and memory techniques, Alexander reports on the riotous workings of the Académie française, the four-hundred-year-old institution charged with keeping the language pure; explores the science of human communication, learning why it’s harder for fifty-year-olds to learn a second language than it is for five-year-olds; and, frustrated with his progress, explores an IBM research lab, where he trades barbs with a futuristic hand-held translator.
Does he succeed in becoming fluent? Readers will be as surprised as Alexander is to discover that, in a fascinating twist, studying French may have had a far greater impact on his life than actually learning to speak it ever would.
Hey Gems! I have a different sort of review today. As you know (from reading my blog) I absolutely love anything Middle Grade or Young Adult. However, today I will be reviewing a Non-Fiction book by William Alexander: A fifty-something man who has embraced French culture since he “stepped onto it’s soil as a twenty-two-year-old with nothing more than a backpack and a Eurail pass…” (Page One of Flirting With French by William Alexander) The quirky synopsis made me laugh but I didn’t expect much more from this book than a quick, light read. Which, unlike most books I read, is exactly what I got.
I was surprised to finish this book as quickly as I did (roughly two and a half hours) and to fall in love with both Alexander’s journey and his writing. I took a break from my current read and planned to read a chapter or two before going back to Susane Colasanti’s All I Need but ended up setting it aside and reading this.
He made me, a nineteen year old who only crossed state lines for a Hannah Montana concert, want to learn French and then (possibly) move there. His recollection of a linguistics convention and a rainy bike ride had me laughing my socks off. The way Alexander melded his words made for an enjoyable read. I would recommend this humorous story, about one man’s journey to learn french, to anyone who isn’t used to reading Non-Fiction… or hasn’t an interest in France for this book will (most likely) change your mind about all things French- flirtatious or not.
I will be picking up his previous novel $64 Tomato one day soon!