Thursday, August 09, 2012

Every Frenchman Has One

Fifty years ago, Olivia de Havilland, a classic in her own right, wrote a classic about being an American in France. I don't have sales statistics on her memoir Every Frenchman Has One, but I hope it was a best-seller.  She wrote it about the challenges of adjusting to life in France, married to the dashing author Pierre Galante. It still resonates today.

Miss de Havilland is still living in Paris and is as gorgeous and gracious as ever at age 94.  A few years back, at the American Cathedral, I had the delight of talking with her about her book after a service. After some introductory conversation and enthusiasm,  I begged her to re-issue her fabulous and funny book.  It would be an instant "re-born" classic! "Oh, yes, I should do that," she replied in her lilting and charming voice. "I think they still have the plates somewhere."

Oh, and what does every Frenchman have, according to Miss de Havilland?

Ha.  Not so fast, and get your minds out of the gutter.

Every Frenchman has a liver.


Canedolia said...

Sounds like a fascinating read. I hope she does re-publish!

Acacia Merlin said...

I just stumbled across your blog, and found this delightful post and thought what amazing synchronicity. The other day, I was thinking of Olivia de Haviland and wondering if she was still in Paris. I met her once when I was a very little girl . . . maybe 9 years old . . . when she was visiting in Chicago. My father brought me along with him to a meeting he had arranged with her at the Ambassador East Hotel. He had known her nanny in Tokyo and had promised her that if he ever met Olivia de Haviland, he would give her a photograph of this nanny holding baby Olivia.

Mme. de Haviland met us in a large and beautiful salon off the main lobby. She was dressed all in beige and carried a elegant, almost pencil thin, beige umbrella, and she treated me so graciously. I, of course, adored her from all the films she had made with Errol Flynn. She gave me her autograph, which I treasured for years.

What a charming, elegant, gracious woman she is, the epitome of chic.

Thank you for reminding me again of that day, for sharing your own encounter with her, and for reminding me that she wrote this book, which I will now try very hard to find and finally read, all these years later.

Being a Francophile and reading every delicious book I can find on French life, I can't believe I missed it.


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