Wednesday, 25 April 2012

French Children Don't Throw Food by Pamela Druckerman

"Je t'ai dit NON, Quentin!"
"Tais-toi, maman."
Parental advice should always come with a warning along the lines of the Phillip Larkin poem with the swearing, because one parental expert's advice is another's anathema. In my case, all parental advice is anathema to me, as I'm a trial-and-error kind of guy and frankly your children are all horrible little brats so why should I listen to you?


Oddly enough, though, I didn't hate this book. That's probably because it's written by an American who finds out that Americans don't know everything there ever was to know about raising children who over-achieve and are models of societal perfection. Entertainment enough, one might think, but she is also married to a Brit, one who likes Dutch football. Not in and of itself interesting, but I don't think he gets enough credit throughout - Simon, we salute you!


Back to the book, and we laugh as our heroine Pamela falls foul of the many pitfalls awaiting ex-pat Anglophones in France, often and repeatedly, but smile benevolently as she does eventually learn that in France, there is no 'other way', probably not peculiar to France but something very evident if you've ever lived there or with a Francophone for any length of time. I'm married to one. 


And I hasten to add she's the best Francophone ever and is lovely and not at all inflexible or haughty. *smiles obsequiously*


Ok, she's gone, but seriously, parental advice aside, this book is acute cultural observation with plenty of expert opinion, and highlights many of the clashes between the Anglos and the Francos with reference to the underlying causes. There's lots to discuss therein, but it might spoil your enjoyment of the book. Give it a blast and you may find yourself with a new-found understanding of the French, and wish to give her advice a try. We've found we're already practising many of the things described, as if by accident. More likely by design. You've met my wife, haven't you?

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