Saturday, October 22, 2016


A memoir both delightful and thoughtful may well have began when Lauren Collins, a highly rated staff writer for the New Yorker, moved to London.  There she met and married Oliver, a handsome French mathematician who spoke English pretty well while her French consisted of “au revoir” and “bonjour.”  What happen after the first glow of marital translates into daily life?           

    When Oliver’s work takes the couple to Geneva Lauren finds that she cannot communicate with anyone and further she has not even spoken to her husband in his language.  What if they were to have children?  What would they think of a mama who could not speak what would be their language?  Louise determines to learn French as well as familiarizing herself with the nuances of French culture (which isn’t remotely connected to her North Carolina upbringing).  She doesn’t spare herself in recounting her often humorous attempts at mastering the language, such as when she told her mother-in-law that “she had given birth to a coffee machine.”

    A portion of her narrative is devoted to a scholarly discussion of language - i.e. how  French developed, why there are so many languages in the world, how some words are identified with a specific gender, etc.

    Ably narrated by Khristine Hvam When In French is both a tender love story and an erudite exploration of language - something for all of us!

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