A book that is not about mothers, children, or running...
I have loved reading Almost French: A New Life in Paris, a memoir by journalist Sarah Turnbull. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. All the clichés apply: I couldn’t put it down; I lost track of time while reading; etc. Turnbull writes about her first years of living in Paris, where she still lives. You may love Paris or know nothing about it – no matter because her story is simply a good story. And her writing is real, clear and uncontrived.
Turnbull, an Australian, moved to Paris in an uncharacteristically whimsical way. (Though Australians are known for being travel-aholics. Some say it is because they live so far away from their cultural roots in Western Europe. As a child, my mother, who is Australian, kept a suitcase packed with essential supplies for her imagined world travels.)
Back to the point, Turnbull meets a Frenchman while traveling in Bucharest, and visits him in Paris. She falls in love (she does not, however, detail their romance in a usual way) and she moves to Paris to live with him. Over the next few years, she builds a freelance journalist career and faces many culture clashes. Some of her experiences are funny, but not always. Some are tense, but not quite look-away painful and hard to read.
Turnbull does not write about motherhood or children, but she does mention running once. Her book has brought a refreshing change to my reading material. And she is so easy to identify with because her writing is so compelling and she faces so many common, yet specific, dilemmas.
And, come on, my whole identity is not about being a mother and a runner, right?
So what do I read next?