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When in French : Love in a Second Language
by Lauren Collins


Overview - A language barrier is no match for love. Lauren Collins discovered this firsthand when, in her early thirties, she moved to London and fell for a Frenchman named Olivier a surprising turn of events for someone who didn t have a passport until she was in college.  Read more...

 
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More About When in French by Lauren Collins
 
 
 
Overview
A language barrier is no match for love. Lauren Collins discovered this firsthand when, in her early thirties, she moved to London and fell for a Frenchman named Olivier a surprising turn of events for someone who didn t have a passport until she was in college. But what does it mean to love someone in a second language? Collins wonders, as her relationship with Olivier continues to grow entirely in English. Are there things she doesn t understand about Olivier, having never spoken to him in his native tongue? Does I love you even mean the same thing as je t aime ? When the couple, newly married, relocates to Francophone Geneva, Collins fearful of one day becoming "a Borat of a mother" who doesn t understand her own kids decides to answer her questions for herself by learning French.
When in Frenchis a laugh-out-loud funny and surprising memoir about the lengths we go to for love, as well as an exploration across culture and history into how we learn languages and what they say about who we are. Collins grapples with the complexities of the French language, enduring excruciating role-playing games with her classmates at a Swiss language school and accidently telling her mother-in-law that she s given birth to a coffee machine. In learning French, Collins must wrestle with the very nature of French identity and society which, it turns out, is a far cry from life back home in North Carolina. Plumbing the mysterious depths of humanity s many forms of language, Collins describes with great style and wicked humor the frustrations, embarrassments, surprises, and, finally, joys of learning and living in French."

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781594206443
  • ISBN-10: 1594206449
  • Publisher: Penguin Press
  • Publish Date: September 2016
  • Page Count: 256


Related Categories

Books > Biography & Autobiography > Literary
Books > Travel > Europe - France
Books > Humor > Topic - Marriage & Family

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2016-05-30
  • Reviewer: Staff

This smart memoir by New Yorker writer Collins is an extended essay on how the languages we speak shape who we are. Collins is an American living in London who speaks little French when she falls in love with a Frenchman who speaks excellent English. They marry and move to Francophone Geneva, where Collins decides to learn French after envisioning herself as a mother who can’t understand half of what her own kids are saying. Throughout, Collins shares excerpts from works of history, philosophy, psychology, politics, and literature that show how pervasive language’s influence is on every aspect of our lives. Political goofs result from mistranslation. Even the meaning of love might depend on how you express it: Does “Je t’aime” mean something different from “I love you”? The transitions can be clunky as Collins shifts between story telling and embarking on academic discussions, but her writing is often elegant and exact. Agent: Elyse Cheney, Elyse Cheney Literary. (Sept.)

 
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