Monday, May 05, 2008

Love a la francaise

Chapter One: Polly Platt's new book, Love à la française

I want to be among the first to proudly announce the upcoming publication of Polly Platt's new book, Love à la française. Here is the review from

"In her best-selling books French or Foe? and Savoir Flair!, Polly Platt handed foreigners the keys to delighting in a visit to France and handling encounters with the French. In Love à la française, she delves into the intimate lives of Anglo-Saxons who actually lived the dream and moved to Paris -- for good, for better or worse -- as wives of French men. Why? To live in the city that celebrates women, where they could discover the meaning of being women, and being completely themselves, whoever they might turn out to be. But French men with their thousand-year experience in enchanting French women are not always in tune with Anglo-Saxons and vice versa. Why do some American women in Paris fail while others bloom and thrive? And how do happy transplants manage their success? After dozens of interviews and in-depth case studies, Polly Platt reveals the secrets of Love à la française."

Chapter Two: Why I am not reviewing the book myself.

About a dozen years ago, when I was working at The French Library in Boston, an author came to give a talk about her recent book, French or Foe? I was curious, not only from the title, but because her name was also Polly: Polly Platt. I sat in the back of the crowded room, spellbound. So many undecipherable French incidents from my past suddenly became clear to me as she explained la French attitude.

As I listened, the mystery of a lifetime of French misunderstandings that had left me perplexed, dumbfounded, frustrated, but determined, was being unraveled. Explained lovingly by an American in Paris who had figured it out. She was elegant, refined, and understood the French. I had a new heroine.

I introduced myself after her talk, starting with the "Polly" connection. As it turned out, we had some family friends in common. One thing led to another, and she kindly offered, "Do look me up if you ever come to Paris."

The next year, when on a mother-daughter jaunt to Paris with 10-year-old Miss Bee, I did in fact give Polly a call. She graciously invited us for tea, with the caveat that she had to do some errands in the neighborhood first. "Feel free to follow along," she encouraged. What an opportunity, to experience the famous Polly Platt in action, using her tried-and-true methods for getting along well with the French! I trailed along with her as she made her neighborhood rounds from shop to shop for errands. She asked the owner of the papeterie his advice for mailing a package. "Do you think it needs string?' she queried, whereupon the owner and all the customers in the shop weighed in with their opinions. I was awestruck. Here I was traipsing through Paris with the doyenne of French-American cross-cultural learning! An NPR crew had just interviewed her a month earlier doing the same drill: following Polly Platt's daily routine.

Later that afternoon, back at their apartment for tea, Polly's most wonderful husband Ande spent an hour and a half charming my daughter, making her feel as though she were a regal princess instead of an awkward pre-teen. We simply floated out of the apartment.

Polly and I had kept in touch vaguely over the years since then, but eventually I lost track of her address. Then when I made the move to Paris I sent her an email saying I hoped we could get together. Friendship rekindled, and it turned out we were neighbors. I was heartbroken to learn that wonderful Ande had recently died, but heartened to know that Polly was "bien entourée" with friends and family in France.

When she casually mentioned that she needed help with updating the next edition of Savoir Flair! I volunteered readily, mostly because I love to proofread and edit copy, and I was eager to help. But also because I knew she had often relied on dear Ande for his critical eye and editorial input. As it turns out she was also in the middle of writing her next book, called Love à la française, a look at the joys and challenges experienced by American women married to French men. The next thing I knew we had agreed that I would help her edit that manuscript as well. And what a labor of "Love." I edited with fever and fervor through the penultimate drafts.

I know the book far too intimately to be objective. It is a delight and an eye-opener, though. Trust me.

Chapter Three: Love at your Doorstep

So, with utmost bias, admiration, and tender affection, I heartily recommend that men and women alike snatch a copy of Love à la française when it hits the bookstore shelves on July 1. There is so much to discover between its covers about love, relationships, and French women, in Polly Platt's beloved France.


materfamilias said...

What a lovely post. I'm definitely putting this book on my to-buy list.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Thanks, materfamilias! I think you'll enjoy it.

Apparently you can pre-order on Amazon.

Unknown said...

Yes, this is a lovely post. I will certainly by the book, knowing you had a hand in it Polly VF. Funny, I bought the book before we started going to France, read it, and then forgot most of its sage advice. I was perusing it again a few weeks back and thinking - now that I've experienced France and the French a few times - how spot on it is.

David in Setouchi said...

I love Polly Platt, and I used the book French or Foe a lot while teaching French in the US to first understand how Americans see the French and then explain them about cultural differences...

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Update on "Love a la Francaise"

The Late Bloomer said...

Wow, how cool that the two polyvalent Pollys are forever linked in such a way! I LOVE this story...

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