Thursday, April 21, 2011

Inner French Girl

Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier

3 Stars

This little book that is supposed to help you find your Inner French Girl is more of a very quick recount of what makes the French Girl who she is...the way she takes care of her skin, her innate sensuality, her passion for rich foods while maintaining a perfect figure, being secure with whatever her figure is, and how her house has that certain je ne sais quoi, while never letting her secrets out.  I was left wanting... wanting to be able to incorporate some aspects of a French Girl’s world, and wanting to know MORE on HOW to achieve the various things that French women do.

While it was enlightening to learn what makes up a French woman’s attitude and defined how she lives, the book did little to help me find my inner French Girl.  I was pleased to discover that I do some things as a French woman does (takes time with experiences), and also know that I cannot, nor want to, achieve a different level with l’amour (i.e. being accepting if my husband decided to take a mistress!).
Most of what makes a French woman who she is comes mostly from the culture that has been steeped in hedonism (my word, not the author’s) for centuries.  Mothers teach their daughters about beauty and skin care from infancy, as well as having skin care such a deep engrained part of the society, as so many things that make up the core of a French woman.

The book is broken down into different chapters in which the author describes what she has seen from her French friends, and gives examples of different people she met while living in France for several years with her French husband.  Clothing, Dining, Celebrating are talked about along side of Love, the Heart and the Body.  The current government in France also helps promote the way French women live as they do... long breaks for languorous lunches and being able to have four to five weeks of vacation a year.

A French girl never eats standing up, has a huge meal at the very end of the day, has eaten four course meals since she was four, and always has a few perfect wardrobe pieces that will go with anything else her bureau, as most do not have walk-in closets.  Because of the economy of space in France, Quality is always stressed over Quantity, in clothing as well as food.  Fresh is the key for food, and taking one’s time is always key in everything thing she does. 

“There is clearly something to say about coming from a mythic country, whose major city is a mecca of good taste, high culture, and haute couture.  Like her country the French girl is not striving to become; she just is.  We, on the other hand, like our own country, are still in the process of becoming.  Where French girl seeks culture or knowledge, we seek self-improvement, self-help.  This is our burden and our blessing.  It makes us open to novelty and the unknown, but also unsure of who we are.
“In many ways, the archetypal French girl is a counterpoint to our world.  She’s a sensualist and a libertarian.  She’s a giver, but she doesn’t give herself away.  She’s not a worrier.  Her consciousness is very likely rooted in the historical underpinnings of the world around her, even as she embraces the future, thoroughly modern. (pg 236)

One interesting part of the book is that there are several little boxes with notes on books, people or movies that drive home the point of the various aspects of the French Girl.  Quotes are also found quite frequently sprinkled throughout the book, and sometimes these little tidbits make the point clearer.

I would have liked to have more tips on how to truly find my French Girl, but the book gives examples, and we are supposed to be savvy enough in order to figure out HOW to incorporate these tips into our lives to make us more French.  It was a quick interesting read that pointed out the differences between our two cultures, and that is more what this book seemed to do, point out our differences and leave the reader wanting more.

Borrow a Page from the French Girl’s Book: Leisure.  Take off your watch.  Turn off the computer.  Ditch the cell phone.  Read, ride your bike, stroll, paint, bake bread, be with your kids, grow your garden, luxuriate in the art of doing absolutely nothing.  Observe your own day of rest with religious conviction.  Lounge, loll, unbuckle your belt, go on furlough.” (pg 231)

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