Thursday, April 4, 2013

Review: La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life by Elaine Sciolino

My best friend and I are both avid readers and constantly recommend and lend books to each other.  This was the most recent one she wanted me to read.  The author has lived many years in France because of her job as Paris bureau chief for the New York Times, and this book is basically about how French women live and act differently that American women.  It is all of the author's own obvervations, with information from French citizens and expats that she got through interviews. 

I love the premise of this book, and I thought the author handled it very well.  A lot of it is very "cliche French", but as it is all observations that the author has made while living in Paris, it is very interesting and fun to read.  I spent just 1 semester living in France, and I noticed the difference between French women and myself right away.  They dress impeccably even to just run to the store or the market.  They know what looks good on their bodies.  They know how to have a great, long conversation. 

Of course, this isn't to say that all French women are like this.  I have no idea what French women in the suburbs are like because I lived in a city.  And not every city woman dresses to the nines everytime she goes out.  But so many women do.

I remember a conversation I had once with the older woman I visited for hours every Saturday when I lived in France.  She was, of course, a native French woman.  We were talking one afternoon about how fancy all the women at the market look.  Myself and the other American girl there were like "I would never see women like this back home!  I myself would prefer to go in yoga pants!"  And Francoise was like "I would never even think of going out without looking put together".  Of course, her version of looking put together and mine (yoga pants and a teeshirt, ha) were completely different.  She then went on to explain that even as a young girl, her mother always stressed the importance of dressing nicely when going out.  So it was just a part of her life that she has continued to do.

The parts about French conversation I also really loved in this book because I noticed in classes and with Francoise that the French really seem to have the art of conversation.  I suck at conversation.  I'm all like "It's sunny!  How are you?  I like coffee!  You don't??!"  They are all like "What did you think about this thing that this person in this magazine or in this government position said and why do you think that and lets have a conversation that anyone who doesn't follow current events a lot like us will not be able to follow at all!"

Of course, I'm sure not every French person is like this.  It's just something that Sciolino talks about in the book, and something I definitely noticed in France. 

Can I also just mention very quickly that the author is from my lovely city, Buffalo?!  Yay!  Okay, on to better things..

My favorite quote of the whole book which made me laugh out loud so hard I was crying, and is making me laugh again right now rereading it:
Even grim news can be delivered with a frisson of the poetic.  I needed an MRI at one point for a severed hamstring.  Perhaps the radiologist thought it would have been too direct to say, "You have destroyed your hamstring forever."  Instead, he told me, "You really did this beautifully madame."  Pausing for effect, he added, "The tendon.  It floats.  In a sea of blood."

How amazing is that??!

Title: La Seduction: How the French Play the Game of Life
Author: Elaine Sciolino
Date of Publication: 2012
Number of Pages: 308 without the index and all that
Genre: Nonfiction
Source: Lent to me by one of my bestest friends ever!


  1. would like if someone did a male version of this but maybe one for my darling wife ,all the best stu