Category: 2ADF

Flirting with French

William Alexander is not just a Francophile, he wants to be French. It’s not enough to explore the country, to enjoy the food and revel in the ambiance, he wants to feel French from the inside. Among the things that stand in his way is the fact that he can’t actually speak the language. Setting out to conquer the language he loves (but which, amusingly, does not seem to love him back), Alexander devotes himself to learning French, going beyond grammar lessons and memory techniques to delve into the history of the language, the science of linguistics, and the art of translation. Along the way, during his travels in France or following his passion at home, he discovers that not learning a language may be its own reward.

Black Venus

In nineteenth century Paris, the young bohemian Charles Baudelaire roams the streets. Dressed impeccably – thanks to an inheritance that is quickly vanishing – and lost in the decadences of alcohol and opium, he is about to meet one woman destined to change his life forever: the beautiful Haitian cabaret singer, Jeanne Duval.

Inspiring Baudelaire’s most infamous poems – leading to the banning of his masterwork, Les Fleurs du Mal, and a scandalous public trial for obscenity – Duval becomes Baudelaire’s muse, the catalyst for a legacy spanning centuries. Their volatile and passionate affair explodes through the Parisian literary scene but, as the ever-more fractious world catches up with them, the strength of their love will be tested to the end.

Unfolding among the bars and salons during revolutionary times, Black Venus is an intoxicating story of love and betrayal in which drugs, absinthe and lust prove the making, and the destruction, of a great poet.

The Bonjour Effect

Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoit Nadeau spent a decade traveling back and forth to Paris as well as living there. Yet one important lesson never seemed to sink in: how to communicate comfortably with the French, even when you speak their language. In The Bonjour Effect Julie and Jean-Benoit chronicle the lessons they learned after they returned to France to live, for a year, with their twin daughters. They offer up all the lessons they learned and explain, in a book as fizzy as a bottle of the finest French champagne, the most important aspect of all: the French don’t communicate, they converse.To understand and speak French well, one must understand that French conversation runs on a set of rules that go to the heart of French culture. Why do the French like talking about "the decline of France"? Why does broaching a subject like money end all discussion? Why do the French become so aroused debating the merits and qualities of their own language? Through encounters with school principals, city hall civil servants, old friends and business acquaintances, Julie and Jean-Benoit explain why, culturally and historically, conversation with the French is not about communicating or being nice. It’s about being interesting. After reading The Bonjour Effect, even readers with a modicum of French language ability will be able to hold their own the next time they step into a bistro on the Left Bank.