Summer Reads: Anywhere but Bordeaux

This is part of my Summer Reads series where I’ll be reviewing a series of “not just cookbooks”.

Anywhere but Bordeaux coverI came across this week’s “Summer Read” in one of my Facebook teacher groups (as you can imagine I’m pretty active in those groups these days – school goes back in just over 2 weeks!) and it was a lovely distraction from the very daunting task of getting ready for a back-to-school unlike any other. Jackie Donnelly is an “author, speaker, and international educator” who “has dedicated her life to sharing her love for the French language, people, and culture.” (so, lots in common there!). She was awarded the rank of Knight and Officer in Les Palmes Académiques by the French Government to recognize teaching excellence and in Anywhere but Bordeaux she recounts a challenging but ultimately rewarding year of a teaching  exchange as middle school English teacher in France.

The blurb from the author:

Jacqueline Donnelly recounts with humor her ex-pat life teaching English in a middle school in Bordeaux, France. Hoping to escape her predictable American life in the States, she runs away in search of adventure and self-discovery. It is a perfect plan. What could go wrong?

Her rosy-eyed dreams of living and working in romantic France come crashing down, leaving her to cope with unexpected challenges. The story reveals daily life in France, and the encounters with wonderful and not so wonderful characters along the way. 

Anywhere but Bordeaux! is perfect reading for anyone tempted to run away and is ideal for a book club.

As a teacher who has taught in France (fairly early on in my career too), I was immediately drawn to this book for the “light” subject matter (we can all use more levity these days!) and it was a great choice for an afternoon/ evening of procrastinating 😉 What better way to put off prepping a new school year than to read about someone else’s? I’m always interested in reading about others’ experiences teaching in France as it’s just so different to teaching, well, anywhere (not in a bad way, it’s just different and takes a bit of getting used to. There’s a lot of red tape!). I was also impressed that this story took place some 20 years ago and Donnelly was able to write about it in such detail – even with notes/ letters/ emails, that’s a long time ago!

Donnelly’s year certainly holds its challenges – not just in the classroom (though that definitely takes a bit of getting used to!). There are cultural and linguistic hurdles as well as some weather-related ones along with all the feelings that come with up and moving your life to another country. Add to that some administrative and organisational issues (hello France, the land of the strike!) and you have a whirlwind of a year with many ups and downs. What shines through is how much Donnelly truly loves teaching and her students, and how much she wants them to succeed even though her way of teaching is somewhat at odds with what they know and expect.

This might not be the book to convince you to move to France and teach (!) but it’s a fabulous summer read that will momentarily transport you to France and experience the life of a teacher for an afternoon!

Anywhere but Bordeaux cover

Buy Anywhere but Bordeaux on Amazon (this link should bring you to the Amazon store geographically closest to you).

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.  This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!


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