Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Joie de Vivre, by Harriet Welty Rochefort


For Book Worm Wednesday this week I am reviewing Harriet Welty Rochefort’s book Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the French .  A book with a beautiful cover, where she uses her in depth knowledge of the French, she has been married to a Frenchman and living here for over 40 years, to explain their ‘ways’ to the rest of us.

She tries to unravel and explain a lot of French paradox, they seem to eat more, yet mostly remain on their target weight, their lunch hours and holidays are important, strikes happen and are supported, yet they remain very productive and for a nation with a reputation for being sullen they have the most ‘joie de vivre’.

I was either nodding in agreement or having a bolt of understanding as I read this book. So many things seemed to make sense and it was nice to identify some typically French things I had been following for a lot of my time here without really realising it.  I definitely learnt something - that the most important thing is confidence, from what you wear (like La Parisienne) to how you manage your food.  Talking about food, we all know it is big in France and therefore no surprise, a big topic in this book too, where we often join her and her extended French family at the table.

More than anything it made me yearn for Paris, especially as she describes her walk to the local market, the wine shop where she gets advice and good wine and my favourite, her cheese man with his seasonal stock of over 200 real cheeses.  She also seems to spend a lot of her time in cafés, talking to friends, interviewing or just people watching, but I can’t blame her, I would be doing the same if I were there too. 

If you are looking to create a new life in France it would be a great idea to read this book first, especially if finding a French husband is on your ‘to do’ list.