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French Impressions : The Adventures of an American Family
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451205340, Paperback)A year in France in 1950 for the Littell family was not exactly A Year in Provence with Peter Mayle. No lovely scenery, no edible delights, not even good wine. But the Littell's French adventures are certainly entertaining. Put an inept American housewife in a country entirely devoted to cuisine, and in the working-class city of Montpellier, "which made Cleveland look like Paris," and you have the makings of a madcap comedy with a heroine who might well have been Lucille Ball with two small children. Based on the writings of journalist Mary W. Littell and written in her voice by her son John, who was 4 years old when the Littell's went to France, the book follows the family of four from one quirky adventure to another. Mary, who is a failure at learning French, survives in her strange new home by speaking like Tonto--using simple words in the present tense, or in English and loudly when all else fails, and by buying up all the canned food in the city. She's a one-woman sideshow when she shops and accidentally starts The Great Mayonnaise War when the league of French housewives tries to teach her the best way to make mayonnaise (half insist on using a fork, the others declare spoon is best). Little John becomes Mary's interpreter (of French and French ways) while 15-month-old Stephen rarely stops crying. Mary's husband Frank reads his small children Great Expectations and is the world's most outrageous teller of historical tales. He also makes a scientific search of 52 bars. Being 1950, there's much cocktail drinking and the parenting is a bit archaic. Mary never does learn to cook, but, fortunately, she does learn that love and affection work better when parenting than yelling. French Impressions is a fun romp through a vanished way of life--both American and French--with a fabulous and witty storyteller. --Lesley Reed
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:35 -0400)
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