Sarah Turnbull On Being Almost French
Once upon a time…………….. a Man met a Woman………..and they lived…….……with a number of cultural complications, in a city that loves conflict, between two worlds which had not much in common……..it was not a bed of roses but it was Life.
In this memoir, Sarah Turnbull has privileged us by sharing her vulnerabilities and the precious first impressions of an alert mind roused by finding itself in a brand-new life gaping at an uncertain future. Through her experiences we learn that leaving everything behind and starting over stretches the human fabric like a rubber-band but unlike a rubber-band we never shrink back.
This book is not an easy read, a light read or even a ‘read’ it’s an Experience which ought to be savoured slowly; to quote the author “It’s a wonderful thing when you feel you’ve captured an ordinary life truth in word”.
Picture Credit: Book Cover, Nicholas Brealy Publishing
Since we can never summarise Life I have picked three most enjoyable themes to discuss in this article.
La Femme Francaise
Admit it, at some point we have all been minorly obsessed with French women. Be it Marie Antoinette for her extravagance, Coco Chanel for her blatant disregard of societal rules, Marie Curie the first woman Nobel prize winner, Simone de Bouvier for her existential and feminist leaning philosophy or Caroline de Maigret for her fabulous self which gives us body and style goals, there is a French woman we can all idolise and connect with. Sarah Turnbull describes La Femme Francaise as perfectly turned out in structured outfits, sipping gently from a half-filled flute of champagne, sizing you up from head to toe all the while comfortably insecure in her beautiful mane of hair and perfectly manicured hands.
Just when you thought you had enough delicious little snippets about French women to re-read out comes an interview with Ines de la Fressange. An interview that either validates your wardrobe or makes you want to throw it all out. The three virtues of “Discretion, Seduction, Elegance” quoted with regards to dressing in the book sum up the many tips she provides the author with. None resonates more than wearing long linen or cotton trousers in the summer to keep the onlookers and oneself ‘appy (sweaty legs anyone?).
Picture Credit: Clipart
Having Two Homes
The Greek man Sarah Turnbull meets on the island of Samos says to her” Once you leave your birthplace nothing is ever the same”. Her description of struggling to settle in with another culture, the heartache at seeing Australia fall behind after a trip home and buying gum leaves just to get a tiny sniff of home is all too familiar to Expats.
Whilst she adores her quartier Rue Montorgueil with its produce market, Cafés, Butcher, Fromagerie and clochards Napoleon and Pierre, Australia is still home. Writing this from the third country that I call home, there are no words to describe what goes on inside us when the words “Home” are mentioned. The feeling is indescribable and yet Sarah Turnbull has captured its essence perfectly.
Picture Credit: Clipart
Maddie La Chienne
The decision to get a dog is a big one but the decision to get a dog in a new country is the best one. We get a glimpse of Sarah’s journey from the decision to get a dog, the moment when Maddie comes home and her struggle to keep Maddie from turning into a stylish snooty Parisienne.
Discovering personality traits in one’s dog which threaten to destroy one’s sanity is as common place as milk in tea. Maddie digging her heels in during her walk and making independent decisions about who she was going to greet in the street are side splitting reminders of our dogs publicly reducing us to nothing. A delightful addition to the Parisian adventures, from now on the mention of the name Maddie will always conjure up images of a fluffy chrysanthemum shaped snow-white Westie head and wombat bottom.
Picture Credit: MaggieRossWesties for getDrawings