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An American columnist for The Independent Herald Tribune who lived in Paris for three decades offers her trenchant observations of France and its people, from cafe culture to the political scene, and everything in-between. Reprint.
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Even the most dedicated expat rarely manages to completely fit into an adopted foreign culture. It's precisely this quality that allows American Mary Blume to so thoughtfully observe and record Paris, the city that's served as her home for over three decades, though its ways may still mystify her. In A French Affair--a collection of essays published in the International Herald Tribune--the columnist deftly captures the quirks and changes that are visible only to those who live in France, though they may be most interesting to those who don't.
In these commentaries--ranging from the opening of invention conventions to the mire of bureaucracy that accompanies the naming of a street (which may only be named after dead people, preferably deceased for at least 15 years)--Blume unveils the French quest for perfection in a world that's perfectly imperfect because of French design, and how the logic of Descartes's descendents--regarding such points as grammar--is sometimes extreme to the point of being irrational. She captures trends, from the fashionable la ratte potato to the metric system. She records notable moments---the death of a designer, the opening of a charm school for men--and notable people, such as Renoir's jet-setting son and Simone de Beauvoir. Of course, this being a book about France, Blume occasionally delves into food, be it the inner workings of a soup kitchen or the launching of cooking classes taught by royalty. With these witty and insightful short snippets, Blume provides small, crystal-clear windows into true French life--a rare accomplishment from an expatriate or a native. --Melissa RossiAbout the Author:
Mary Blume is a columnist at the International Herald Tribune and the author of Cte d'Azur: Inventing the French Riviera.
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