France: Love, Life, and Words

Destination: France

Blossoming in Provence book cover
Book: Blossoming in Provence by Kristin Espinasse

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.)

A riot of daiseys, Giverney
A riot of daiseys, Giverney

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.

Restaurant sign in Brittany
Restaurant sign in Brittany

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!

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About Vera Marie Badertscher

A freelance writer who loves to travel. When she is not traveling she is reading about travel. When she is not reading or traveling, she is sharing with the readers of A Traveler's Library, or recreating her family's past at Ancestors In Aprons . She has written for Reel Life With Jane, Life is a Trip and other websites. Also co-author of a biography, Quincy Tahoma, The Life and Legacy of a Navajo Artist. Contact Vera Marie by e-mail.

21 thoughts on “France: Love, Life, and Words

  1. This does sound like an interesting and wonderful book! If I can’t get to Provence in person, perhaps this might help me get there in my mind…

  2. This sounds like a good book. I love reading about expats and their experiences abroad and Kristin sounds like she tells a good story.

  3. Wait, wait, wait. I don’t care how charmant and debonair a Frenchman may be, he is NOT using my toothbrush. Hands off, mon cher.

    1. Boy, I hope le charmant Jean-Marc has a sense of humour about all this. Actually, from what I’ve read, I suspect he’s just shaking his head in wonder at the uptight American women!

  4. What a wonderful review of this book- and great introduction to the blog. AS always, you do such a wonderful job showcases books that you make my life very difficult :)…I just want to buy ALL the books you speak of- and unfortunately for my pocketbook- I’ve purchased quite a few 🙂

    1. And I’ll bet you purchase all those books from links on your favorite book blog, too, don’t you Connie? But I know the problem with temptations–I keep wanting to travel to everyplace that my readers mention, and read all the additional books they suggest. No can do, but it’s fun trying.

  5. My goodness, Vera, my reading list is already about 2 or 3 lifetimes too long. . . Now you go and introduce me to books I didn’t know I HAVE to read about Portugal and France. Bookmarked the blog, too.

  6. Vera, again a great review and I have “A French Life..” on my “Must read” list. PS, I also posted your give away on Facebook.
    Thank you.

  7. Thanks for introducing me to this wonderful story and the blog. I’ll definitely subscribe so I can learn some new French words. My life almost went that way, sans the vineyard.

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