“French Toast” was the perfect book to enjoy while sipping coffee and eating a pastry at a French cafe while I waited for repairs to be made on my car. American Harriet Rochefort recounted her experience with French culture during the last twenty years of being married to a Frenchman. Each chapter explained a different aspect of the French, making this book easy to enjoy in multiple sittings. Harriet not only discussed some of the details of the French culture, but provided many personal stories to highlight her own struggle to be a proper French woman and wife. Clean and direct writing combined with a delightfully witty writer who wasn’t ashamed to make fun of herself made this memoir very enjoyable.
Harriet discussed the French love affair with food and how women are expected to prepare two large full meals a day. When she attempted to introduce her in-laws to sandwiches as a meal she was instantly rebuffed. This was just one example of many that showed how Harriet didn’t fit in with the French. The greater mystery for me was the allure of French women who are perfectly coiffed and beautiful at all hours of the day. One story that showcased the differences among French and American socially was a dinner party were Harriet and other American women were involved in a jovial conversation full of laughter. This would never have occurred if the women were French because French women would not have excluded men from their conversations, and would never have laughed so loud! I knew I would fit right into French culture when Harriet explained that road rage is accepted. One day when her husband left for work, he found that someone double parked in front of his car. He took out a tube of lipstick (that he carried around with him for just this purpose) and wrote a vulgar message on the windshield of the car blocking him in, which was perfectly acceptable!
Americans love to make fun of the French, but if you are interested in unraveling some of their mysteries, then I recommend this book.