I guess it’s pretty obvious I haven’t been blogging much. I haven’t even gotten round to finishing my posts on our last trip to France. It’s just that we’ve been very busy making huge changes to our lives. Maybe we’ve absorbed some of ‘la façon de vivre française’ or at least that’s what I’d like to think. Just before Christmas, Brandon and I had a spontaneous discussion about our lives in Melbourne. It was the end of the year and it seemed like a good time to take stock of where we were in life and where we were heading. It soon became pretty obvious to the both of us that something was missing. Oh we were keeping busy with running the rat race, for sure, but it felt like we weren’t living life to the fullest. Clearly something had to change. Adelaide was calling us home. While I’ve only spent half my life in Adelaide, and Brandon had only spent his uni life and early working life here, this place has always felt like home to the both of us. It was time to come home…
So we decided to start looking for jobs. We made a pact that as long as one of us got a job, we would move back to Adelaide. We both got offered jobs within 2 weeks. After four years of having everything not go according to plan, we were amazed at how everything fell into place so quickly and easily. It was like the stars aligned. As if that wasn’t enough, the universe decided to hit us over the head with another sign – thanks to my sister, who works in real estate, we bought a house in 3 days. Our new home has everything we were looking for – location, character, a cellar (for hubby), and to top it off, ours was the lowest of three offers but the vendors accepted our offer. Now our 100 year old grand dame of a house is in the process of getting all dolled up in ‘le style français’ with renovations to her kitchen and bathrooms. It is the house of our dreams and we still can’t believe how everything has finally fallen into place for us. Chloe is loving the large space to wander around and has quickly established her place as princess of the castle. Hubby now has time for golf, cycling, tennis, badminton, catching up with old friends and X-boxing with my cousin’s husband.
Finally, there is now a feeling of peace and belonging in our lives. For sure, our days are kept busy with the work that needs to go into making the house our home, and work is always busy for the both of us… But now we have a place to call home. For our little family, ‘la vie est vraiment belle’.
I’ve recently started immersing myself in French architecture, styling and décor books. My French tutor finds this very amusing (yes, I’m keeping up with my lessons with my tutor via Skype). And it was on one such hunt for more books that I discovered this wonderful gem of a book on living in France. OK, so I’m about 8 years too late (the book was published in 2005) but I read it cover to cover and loved every single page of it.
Almost French is book written by Australian journalist Sarah Turnbull about how she stumbled into a life in Paris after falling in love with a Frenchman. Yes, it sounds clichéd but it is far from that. The thing I enjoyed most about this book in comparison to several other similarly themed books is her typical Australian honesty. Unlike some American authors who view France and its people through rose-tinted glasses and then go on to write a book about how their life in France didn’t quite live up to the dream and whine about how they couldn’t fit in with the French, Sarah is very perceptive and shrewd in her analysis of France, her culture, and her people. Her writing is a delightful exposé of the French way of life – roses, warts and all.
The other thing I love about this book is how it resonates with me – taking a chance and finding love unexpectedly, trying to adapt to life in a new city (OK I would have happily swapped cities with her), and I especially love the section on her dog, Maddie, a west-highland terrier who for a very brief moment in her young life, thought she was human. Sarah’s writing is insightful, humorous and so true to life. She describes her ‘quartier’ and rue Montorgueil exactly as I remember it from our trip last year.
I loved, loved, loved this book. If you haven’t read it yet, you have to go get yourself a copy. So far, I have to say this is the best book I’ve read about living in France as ‘une étrangère’.