I am so excited to be a stop today on Samantha Verant’s blog tour for her latest memoir, How To Make A French Family. This delightfully delicious memoir of “love, food and faux pas” was a 5 star read for me.
Say bonjour to a whole new way of life!
Take one French widower, his two young kids, 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 withher new husband, Jean-Luc, and his two 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-bitten 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 starts to wonder if she really has what it takes to make it in la belle France. But when a second chance at love and life is on the line, giving up isn’t an option. How to Make a French Family is the heartwarming, sometimes hilarious story of the culture clashes and faux pas that, in the end, add up to one happy family.
The phrase “joie de vivre” kept crossing my mind as I read this charming, witty and at times, extremely tender memoir by the lovely Samantha Verant. Given a second chance at love at the age of 40, Samantha relocates from her home in America to the gorgeous French countryside with her new husband, Jean-Luc and his two children. While the fairy tale life of being whisked away to Europe by your prince charming and roaming the streets of Paris sounds incredibly romantic, the reality of the situation soon hit hard. Struggling with the language barrier, having no immediate support system to help her acclimate to her new surroundings and successfully navigating her new role as step mother are just some of the daunting challenges Samantha faced as she adjusted to her new life.
She also candidly opens up about the miscarriages that she suffered as she and Jean-Luc tried to have a child of their own. Imagine being oceans away from your mother and your girlfriends, and enduring such tragic losses. These chapters were heartbreaking to read and I just wanted to reach out and give her a hug. Her resiliency and resolve shine through the pages as she grieves her losses and heals. She and Jean-Luc share a passion for cooking and this is where they always return– to the kitchen. Mouth watering recipes can be found sprinkled throughout the book and I found myself wanting to pull up a chair and watch her work her culinary magic while sipping red wine from a very large glass.
This book was just a delight to read and I thought it was a wonderful testament to blended families. Samantha shows that with love, respect, and hard work you can take the ingredients given to you be life and make something truly extraordinary with it.
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Anytime I read a book in a span of 24 hours, I know it’s a winner. Such is the case with Claire Fuller’s Swimming Lessons…. a gorgeously written novel about the loss of identity, love and betrayal of the ugliest kind. Swimming Lessons is a heart-breaking family mystery surrounding the circumstances of the disappearance of Ingrid Coleman, who, twelve years ago, went out for a swim one afternoon and never returned. Her husband and two daughters are left behind to pick up the pieces and carry on with life-never knowing what really became of their mother. Did she drown? Did she leave? Why would she abandon her family? All is not what it seems, as the reader is taken back in time through a series of letters that Ingrid wrote to her husband Gil before she vanished. I love when a story flip flops between the past and the present, but that narrative can be very difficult to pull off. Fuller does it seamlessly and you find yourself deeply engrossed in the details of the Coleman marriage while also getting present day insight through the eyes of the two (now grown) daughters. Piece by scandalizing piece, Fuller provides snippets of what went wrong and why. My heart broke for Ingrid as she struggled to reconcile who she had now become with who she had wanted to be. It also broke for Flora and Nan, each assuming roles no child should have to at such a young age. I had quite a visceral reaction to Gil’s character. Bravo to Fuller for writing him so well that I had several instances throughout the story where I was hoping someone would punch him in the face and hold him accountable. This book is raw and powerfully written and I give it 5 fantastic stars. Thank you so much to Book of the Month Club for introducing me to this incredibly talented author. What a way to end 2016 for me! Claire Fuller you deserve all the success and accolades that this book will no doubt receive.