In 1994, one of my sisters,(I have five), was in France on a sabbatical year. I remember one evening as I was going to bed I glanced at the books that I had on my bedside table. They were “A Movable Feast”, by Ernest Hemmingway; “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens; and “Gibran in Paris”, by Yusuf Huwayyik, translated by Matti Mossa. When I mentioned this the next day to another of my sisters,we took it as a sign, and resolved to get ourselves to Paris to visit our sister there.
We were so glad that we did, we loved the city. In “Almost French”, Sarah Turnbull expresses very, very well just how and why Paris does this to those who visit, like us, and those that choose to stay, like her. There is a tremendous amount of wit and wisdom woven into her struggles to understand the culture that she had married into. Towards the end of her book, after all the perplexities, and aha moments of insight, she sums up the attitude that seems to help her make living in Paris work: “It is probably something I’ve learned in France, this being less anxious to please. While there’s a great deal of wisdom in the “When in Rome..” maxim, I don’t think respecting a different culture means you have to follow all the rules. Some, yes, but not all.”
What I will take away from this book (what it teaches me) is that life takes pluck. She demonstrated true doggedness as she strove to create her career in journalism. It was not easy, but she had an integral understanding that these things are worth the continued effort. She is a true expert in doing everything she can to keep her spirits up. (I smiled at the declaration that rejection letters became trophies of sorts, at least there was a recognition she existed.) Her life is a success because of this trait. Her tremendous capacity to see and draw out humor from the characters and situations in which she found herself has made the sharing of these portions of her life a fun, poignant, and enlightening read.
Where I got it: From my sister Pat. (The one that was in France). Publisher: Gotham Books Year Published: 2002