Every Frenchman Has One By Olivia de Havilland
Published By Crown Archetype June 28, 2016
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Back in print for the first time in decades—and featuring a new interview with the author, in celebration of her centennial birthday—the delectable escapades of Hollywood legend Olivia de Havilland, who fell in love with a Frenchman—and then became a Parisian
In 1953, Olivia de Havilland—already an Academy Award-winning actress for her roles in To Each His Own and The Heiress—became the heroine of her own real-life love affair. She married a Frenchman, moved to Paris, and planted her standard on the Left Bank of the River Seine. It has been fluttering on both Left and Right Banks with considerable joy and gaiety from that moment on.
Still, her transition from Hollywood celebrity to parisienne was anything but easy. And in Every Frenchman Has One, her skirmishes with French customs, French maids, French salesladies, French holidays, French law, French doctors, and above all, the French language, are here set forth in a delightful and amusing memoir of her early years in the “City of Light.”
Paraphrasing Caesar, Ms. de Havilland says, “I came. I saw. I was conquered.”
Olivia de Havilland’s self-deprecating book is a delight to read from cover to cover. Her “escapades” with French culture and customs will make you laugh continually and will have you sharing the funniest parts with whomever is in the immediate vicinity.
What fun this little book was! The title intrigued me when I saw it and given that Ms Havilland is one of my favorite actresses I requested this book instantly. Her quirky and sarcastic view of everything she experienced in France made this book one of the best autobiographies I’ve ever read. Ms. Havilland’s recounting of her battles with builders, painters, electricians and others like them were hilarious – I shook my head many times at the imagined insults the workers thought she was using while she was just trying to make them do their jobs. I especially enjoyed reading her account of what every Frenchman has – a liver – and that he or she must care for it carefully to ensure proper health. How interesting to read all that the French believed goes into healing and shrinking the liver to the proper size and function. Even more fun was to read about the way the French had no problem with men going to the bathroom in public but were appalled if a woman asked for or left the table to use the facilities. And Ms Havillands’s description of going to Alexandre’s salon to have her hair done had me laughing out loud at the the stereo-typically French way things were done at her appointments. It was a joy to read this book in which the author poked fun at herself and her assumptions and standards she brought with her into a new country. Like many others, Ms. de Havilland thought she knew what words and phrases meant but found out that nuances and intents are very different in each culture. There are many other fun and entertaining adventures in this book and I encourage readers to read this gem if they are looking for a light-hearted read. I will most certainly recommend this book to others and will be purchasing copies for my relatives who love all things French. My copy will be read many more times I’m sure!
This book was provided to me at no cost from Crown Archetype via Blogging for Books in exchanged for a fair and honest review. I will receive no fiscal compensation from either company for this review.