When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins
Review by Lauren
source: copy from BEA '16; all opinions are my own
Official Summary: A language barrier is no match for love. Lauren Collins discovered this firsthand when, in her early thirties, she moved to London and fell for a Frenchman named Olivier—a surprising turn of events for someone who didn’t have a passport until she was in college. But what does it mean to love someone in a second language? Collins wonders, as her relationship with Olivier continues to grow entirely in English. Are there things she doesn’t understand about Olivier, having never spoken to him in his native tongue? Does “I love you” even mean the same thing as “Je t’aime”? When the couple, newly married, relocates to Francophone Geneva, Collins—fearful of one day becoming "a Borat of a mother" who doesn’t understand her own kids—decides to answer her questions for herself by learning French.
|I picked this one up on a whim at BEA 16 because I thought the premise sounded great. Basically, Lauren Collins moves to England to continue working for a New York magazine, just in a remote location. It's here where she meets her future husband, Olivier, who speaks English, but is actually French. When the two end up in Switzerland because of Olivier's job, Collins realizes that she really needs to learn one of the biggest languages, which is French. This will also help her communicate with her boyfriend in his own language, as well as converse with his family, who only speak French.|
If this were the whole of the book, I would have been very happy. I love memoirs and reading about people's lives, even if they aren't "famous names" or "celebrities." Lauren Collins writes for magazines, but I wouldn't say people know her based on her name. However, this memoir of sorts was really enjoyable. I'm from the United States and I can only speak English. I wish I could speak another language, but my classes never seemed to stick (French in high school, Spanish in college). I do believe we need to learn at a much younger age!
Anyway, in between true stories of Collins and the task of learning a second language, she shares various historical anecdotes concerning language. I found most of these interesting, and they did add a lot to what Collins was going through in her personal life. I wouldn't say I was all that interested in everything that was added to the book but overall, it was intriguing and I'm glad to have read it. I'd highly recommend to those who speak another language or want too, and for those of us who like to travel or want to explore the world more!