William Alexander

Flirting with French

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In this “charming memoir,” a determined Francophile pursues fluency in the language he loves—and we read along to find out if it will ever love him back (Kirkus Reviews).

William Alexander is more than a Francophile. He wants to be French. If only he could speak the language. In Flirting with French, Alexander eats, breathes, and sleeps au français. He travels to France, where mistranslations send him bicycling off in all sorts of wrong directions. At an immersion class in Provence where he faces the riddle of masculine breasts, feminine beards, and a turkey cutlet of uncertain gender, he wonders if he should’ve taken up golf instead.

While playing hooky from grammar lessons and memory techniques, Alexander reports on the riotous workings of the Académie Française, the centuries-old institution charged with keeping the language pure; explores the science of human communication, learning why it’s harder for fifty-year-olds to learn a second language than it is for five-year-olds. Never giving up his quest for fluency, Alexander discovers that studying French may have had a far greater impact on his life than actually learning to speak it ever would.

“Alexander proves that learning a new language is an adventure of its own—with all the unexpected obstacles, surprising breakthroughs and moments of sublime pleasure traveling brings.” —Julie Barlow, author of The Bonjour Effect
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238 printed pages
Original publication
2014

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