You may remember a few years ago, I told you the story of Samantha Vérant who first found herself in Paris at the age of 19. On that day, she met a handsome French scientist (Jean-Luc) and they spent one magical day exploring the city. Though he begged her to extend her stay, Sam stuck to her travel plans and left Jean-Luc with only her home address and the memory of their lovely day. When Sam returned home, Jean-Luc wrote to her exactly seven times. She never wrote back… until…
Fast-forward 20 years. Sam found herself facing divorce and bankruptcy. She came across Jean-Luc’s letters and, through the Internet, she tracked him down and wrote to him, apologising for taking so long to reply. That life-changing decision and what happened afterwards is documented agonisingly and hilariously in Sam’s debut novel, Seven Letters From Paris.
If you’ve read Seven Letters from Paris, you may well have been left thinking “But what happened next?” Enter How to make a French Family!
Say bonjour to a whole new way of life!
Take one French widower, his two young children, and drop a former city girl from Chicago into a small town in southwestern France. Shake vigorously… and voilà: a blended Franco-American family whose lives will all drastically change.
Floating on a cloud of newlywed bliss, Samantha couldn’t wait to move to France to begin her life with her new husband, Jean-Luc, and his kids. But almost from the moment the plane touches down, Samantha realizes that there are a lot of things about her new home―including flea-ridden cats, grumpy teenagers, and language barriers―that she hadn’t counted on.
Struggling to feel at home and wondering when exactly her French fairy tale is going to start, Samantha isn’t sure if she really has what it takes to make it in la belle France. But when a second chance at life and love is on the line, giving up isn’t an option. How to Make a French Family is the heart warming and sometimes hilarious story of the culture clashes and faux pas that, in the end, add up to one happy family.
How to make a French Family is the much-anticipated follow-up to Seven Letters and I really appreciated the fact that Sam tells us the real story of what life in France can be like. Despite what it might seem like on social media, #lifeinFrance can be hard. And frustrating. And lonely. I know this first-hand from when I lived in Paris in the mid-1990s, pre-Internet so my only way to pretend that life in France was fun and oh-so-quirky and beautiful and filled with wine and pastries was to write letters home. There’s a suitcase somewhere filled with letters to my family where I made it sound much easier and way more fun/ funny than it actually was. Letters home were the 1990s equivalent of social media where life isn’t always what it seems…
In How to make a French Family, Sam tells it like it really is. Of course, there is laughter and love and massive highs (and lots of wonderful food and wine). But there are also times of great sadness and loneliness. The book is a roller-coaster of emotions. Because Sam’s not just dealing with uprooting her life and moving to France (and a new language and culture to figure out). She’s got a ready-made family with Jean-Luc’s children, Max and Elvire. Jean-Luc is a rock of support for Sam but stepping into the role of “mum” is definitely something that comes with its own special challenges. Sam negotiates becoming a mum, the language and culture, by turning to what she finds comfort in – food and cooking.
Sam’s tale of adapting to her new life is written like a recipe, each chapter being one of the “ingredients” necessary for her to integrate – Communication, Friendship, Adventure, Passion and Love. Through each chapter, we see Sam become more and more confident and comfortable in her new life (despite constant ups and downs) cooking her way into the hearts of her children, often with her own special twists on dishes (sometimes successful, sometimes not!). Luckily for us, she’s shared all the recipes from her journey here.
If you’ve ever even visited France and been confused by some of the language and/ or culture, this book will resonate with you. If you’re a fan of “happy ever after”, France and food this is a must-read memoir. Sam’s enthusiasm for life, her newfound ready-made family, all things French and her “never-give-up” attitude will have you cheering at her successes and shedding a tear when life gets a bit rough. In the end, making a French family might seem complex and confusing but Sam’s got it figured out. It’s not without its “moments” but in the end, it’s worth it. Plus, there’s great food and wine along the way!
Canadian and US readers: Win a copy of How to Make a French Family! Details here.
It’s a How to Make a French Family Blog Tour!
Over the past two weeks, bloggers and writers all over the world have been reviewing and writing about How to make a French Family! Check out their posts:
The Haute Life Toulouse Spring Edition (pgs. 24-25)
Words of Mystery with Lynn (Review)
Janice MacLeod, author of Paris Letters and A Paris Year (Launch Day Post)
The Good Life France with Janine Marsh, founder of the Good Life France and author of the forthcoming My Good Life in France
French Village Diaries
Always Packed for Adventure with Karen
Susan Blumberg Kason, author of Good Chinese Wife (Interview)
British Weekly (Interview)
Sunday Spotlight on We Love Memoirs
Lisa Anselmo, author of My Part-Time Paris Life (Interview)
Jessica with ShelfQuest (Review)
Prose and Palate (Review)
Looking for Ballast with Karin B
Please note: This post contains product links from Amazon and The Book Depository which are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: I received a copy of “How to Make a French Family” from SourceBooks for review purposes. I was not further compensated for writing this post.