Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me & Nearly Broke My Heart by William Alexander
William Alexander has a desire that many, many Francophiles share with him.
Some Americans want to visit France. Some want to live in France. I want to be French.
Thus, this book chronicles his attempts at learning French, learning to play boules and understanding the people and the culture. What I appreciated the most about this book is that it totally different from every other I-want-to-be-French memoir I have read. And I have read plenty. What makes this book so different are the lessons in linguistics and the history of language that are laid out throughout the book. Alexander is an incredibly charming narrator. He has a sly, self-deprecating wit that makes this book very relatable. Its like having a conversation with a friend. He’s a happily married 57-year-old going on 58 who wants to learn French. The fact that his wife is indifferent to the whole situation is amusing to me. That most of his struggles and hardships of learning the language at home, and not in France make the book all the more approachable.
He goes through a number of obstacles in his attempts to learn French, including some very serious heart conditions and surgeries. Although he touches upon this subject lightly and with good humor. He learns the language through a number of formats. He studies by book at home, with the Rosetta Stone, with immersion classes and French pen-pals. He joins a French meet-up group in his local New York. He even goes to France for a 2-week all French immersion class with a rather random group of travelers. He covers a lot of group with pop linguistic history as well as discussing how and why human being are able to learn language. This is an interesting and informative read. Anyone learning a language can very easily relate to Alexander’s experiences, frustrations and achievements. This is a great book, and not just for Francophiles, but for anyone learning a new language.