Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Bookseller: Catherine
Title: Flirting with French

This book, an in-depth and very funny look at a 57-year-old American's attempt to learn French in an intense year of self-designed language study,, will appeal to you IF you answer YES (or oui) to at least two of the following questions:

Have you attempted to learn a second (or third) language and struggled?

Are you looking for ways to sharpen your cognitive skills as you get older?


Are you a Francophile?


Do you know any French, even just a little?


Are you interested in languages or language acquisition?


If you answered YES to two or more of these questions, then you will most likely enjoy this book very much. If you answered YES to four or more of these questions, then you will probably LOVE this book. (C'est vrai!)


If you answered NO to most of the questions and/or were annoyed by the use of four French words here, please put the card back in the book, the book on the shelf, and enjoy browsing in our store for a different read. We have lots!


Obviously, I highly recommend this book, but not to everyone.


— From Catherine's Past Picks 1


"A delightful and courageous tale and a romping good read. Voila " --Mark Greenside, author of I'll Never Be French (No Matter What I Do)

William Alexander is more than a Francophile. He wants to be French. There's one small obstacle though: he doesn't speak la langue fran aise. In Flirting with French, Alexander sets out to conquer the language he loves. But will it love him back?

Alexander eats, breathes, and sleeps French (even conjugating in his dreams). He travels to France, where mistranslations send him bicycling off in all sorts of wrong directions, and he nearly drowns in an immersion class in Provence, where, faced with the riddle of masculine breasts, feminine beards, and a turkey cutlet of uncertain gender, he starts to wonder whether he should've taken up golf instead of French. While playing hooky from grammar lessons and memory techniques, Alexander reports on the riotous workings of the Acad mie fran aise, the four-hundred-year-old institution charged with keeping the language pure; explores the science of human communication, learning why it's harder for fifty-year-olds to learn a second language than it is for five-year-olds; and, frustrated with his progress, explores an IBM research lab, where he trades barbs with a futuristic hand-held translator.

Does he succeed in becoming fluent? Readers will be as surprised as Alexander is to discover that, in a fascinating twist, studying French may have had a far greater impact on his life than actually learning to speak it ever would.

"A blend of passion and neuroscience, this literary love affair offers surprise insights into the human brain and the benefits of learning a second language. Reading William Alexander's book is akin to having an MRI of the soul." --Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of Sleeping Arrangements

"Alexander proves that learning a new language is an adventure of its own--with all the unexpected obstacles, surprising breakthroughs and moments of sublime pleasure traveling brings." --Julie Barlow, author of Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong

Product Details
ISBN: 9781616200206
ISBN-10: 1616200200
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: September 16th, 2014
Pages: 288
Language: English