Read about France, win a book about Portugal. See below.
NOTE: The Arizona State Alumni magazine wrote about Kristin Espinasse in December 2011. You can read it here.
You might think at first glance that a beautiful blond from Arizona who goes to Paris to study and winds up marrying an impossibly handsome Frenchman who starts a successful vineyard where they live in Provence and have two children….you might think that is pretty much a fairy tale life.
Well, yeah, but fortunately for all us dreamers, Kristin Espinasse spills all the difficulties of marrying France along with her tempting photographs of the life of Provence. Before you start hating her for her life, and because she is an accomplished writer and photographer, please read what she has written. In Blossoming in Provence, her sequel to Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France, we learn, for instance, that the impossibly handsome Frenchman doesn’t just pack light on a weekend trip, he packs in a trash bag and leaves his toothbrush at home because he can always use hers. (Now those are two tips I’ve never seen the numerous travel blog posts on packing light.)
And then there are the children, who have grown up in full public view as Kristin has blogged about their life for the past seven years. From correcting her French vocabulary when they were in grade school (rolled yeux. “Oh Maman!”) or they spill a mint drink all over the floor she has just cleaned for guests, and as they enter their teens, we regular readers of the French Word a Day blog begin to worry that they will soon leave home and blog.
But lest you think all she talks about are the annoyances of expat life, I must hasten to say that Kristin turns every one of her vary personal experiences into a lovely and positive life lesson. Not only that, but each one is a French lesson as well! As she is making sense of her life in France, we are meeting irrisistable characters like her mother (who now lives in Mexico), Jean-Marc’s family–who, trust me, are NOTHING like the French family in Le Mariage . And that is why I am breaking with the January tradition and not giving away the book I’m reviewing today. I CANNOT part with it.
If you, as I did, once studied French, but got away from it and want to brush up a bit, freshen your vocabulary with today’s slang–you’ve come to the right place. Blossoming in Province presents selections from the French Word a Day blog. Each includes some French expressions within the little story and a list at the end. (On the blog you can also get pronunciation help from one of her native French speaking family). So loyal are Kristin’s followers that they comment vigourously, suggesting corrections or alternatives to the words and expressions she presents. AND the blog readers helped her select and edit the entries for this book. Which may explain why this little book strikes me as so much more worthwhile than many made-from-blog books.
Just one teeny suggestion. I would like to have a complete vocabulary list at the end of the book, as well as the list at the end of each chapter. And maybe next time (there has to be a next time) we could have a brief vocabulary of generally useful phrases to go with the specialized ones in the stories?
You don’t have to know French, or even want to learn it to enjoy this book and its mother blog, though. Want to enjoy beautiful photography of France that will have you booking a flight? Love dogs? She rarely posts without mentioning her two beautiful goldens. Are you a writer or wanna-be writer? She shares her learning process as she becomes a writer. Or do you just like a little inspiration for finding the good things in your life and fully enjoying it? Travel Library or not, you will thoroughly enjoy Blossoming in Province, its predecessor Words In a French Life and Kristin Espinasse’s blog, French-Word-a-Day.
Disclaimers: Kristin sent me a review copy of her latest book, but I had already bought the first book and am a subscriber to the blog, so obviously one review copy will not sway my opinion. Photos are my own, although they are not in Provence, they are in France. I excuse that fault since I have not been to Provence, and since Kristin does also used photos from other parts of the country. Links to book titles take you to Amazon, where by some sort of miracle although you spend no more, I earn a few pennies from each purchase. Thanks!
So although I’m holding back Blossoming in Province, I have to offer you SOMETHING, don’t I? Strictly your choice if you wish to accept it. Another terrific book for travelers is The Portuguese, A Modern History, reviewed here. If you would like to have this review copy, let me know in the comments below, or in a tweet or on Google+ or all three. Keep in mind that people who have subscribed to the blog, and told me that in a comment are winning lots of things, because they get an automatic entry every day. But you have to TELL me!