|How to Make a French Family|
by Samantha Vérant
My review today is for the newly released How to Make a French Family by Samantha Vérant. This is the second memoir from Sam about her new life in France, following a rekindled romance from twenty years ago with Frenchman Jean-Luc. Theirs truly is a real-life fairytale romance and you can read my review of Sam’s first memoir Seven Letters From Paris here.
Say bonjour to a whole new way of life!
Take one French widower, his two young children, and drop a former city girl from Chicago into a small town in southwestern France. Shake vigorously... and voilà: a blended Franco-American family whose lives will all drastically change.
Floating on a cloud of newlywed bliss, Samantha couldn't wait to move to France to begin her life with her new husband, Jean-Luc, and his kids. But almost from the moment the plane touches down, Samantha realizes that there are a lot of things about her new home―including flea-ridden cats, grumpy teenagers, and language barriers―that she hadn't counted on.
Struggling to feel at home and wondering when exactly her French fairy tale is going to start, Samantha isn't sure if she really has what it takes to make it in la belle France. But when a second chance at life and love is on the line, giving up isn't an option. How to Make a French Family is the heart warming and sometimes hilarious story of the culture clashes and faux pas that, in the end, add up to one happy family.
As soon as their wedding party in California is over, Sam, Jean-Luc and stepchildren Elvire and Max return from the States and Sam is thrown into her new readymade family life in France, and in French. It is not always easy and she experiences moments of insecurity, loneliness and a loss of confidence that she writes about openly and honestly. However her love for Jean-Luc, his love and support for her, and her passion for cooking help her to take the steps needed to regain her happiness. As a forced stay-at-home-mum (mom) Sam cooks her way into family life with some delicious French recipes, often with her own unique twist. As any of us who have cooked for kids will know, some of these go down better than others with her stepchildren, but they all sounded delicious to me. Luckily for us, many of these recipes are shared in the book and if you’d like a sneaky peek, Sam says it’s ok for me to share this link to them here.
In many ways Sam was lucky to become integrated into real French family life from day one and I was especially envious to read about their big family Christmas gatherings in Provence. Family aside, Sam also has to make friends, which is never easy when you are the new girl in town, but yet another thing she manages to achieve as she boldly struts out to conquer her new life. With the support of Jean-Luc, their extended family and her friends Sam is able to overcome the upsets and challenges life throws at her and her strength and determination leap from the pages.
At times this book is sad and shows her vulnerability, but at other times it’s funny and I laughed along, feeling like I was there, in her kitchen, dancing and cooking with her and daughter Elvire. It is a book written from the heart and if you’re a memoir junkie, like I am, you’ll love it.
How to Make a French Family is published by Sourcebooks and available in paperback and ebook format.
You can read my France et Moi interview with Sam here and follow her on her blog here and on Twitter and Facebook.