‘French Women Don’t Sleep Alone’— they don’t have to, new book says

  It’s probably safe to say that French women don’t spend as much time thinking about American women as we spend thinking about them. To reinforce that thought process, here comes "French Women Don’t Sleep Alone: Pleasurable Secrets to Finding Love" — yet another book extolling la belle Française as the role model the American female should aspire to, if she knows what’s good for her — this time in the amour department.
   In case you’ve somehow missed the phenomenon, American women have been barraged in the past few years by several shelves worth of books attempting to explain that je ne sais quoi that sets the French female apart, and urging us to adopt some of it, whatever it is. There were "French Women Don’t Get Fat"; "Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl"; "All You Need to Be Impossibly French"; "A Guide to Elegance"; the "French Chic" series by Anne Barone (she deserves a lot of credit for being among the pathfinders in this genre) — to name just a few. Mon Dieu, I’m tired just thinking about all the advice.
   "French Women Don’t Sleep Alone" (March 2009, Citadel Press, Kensington Publishing Corp.) offers quite an interesting take on adopting the French perspective. Author Jamie Cat Callan, as a child, adored her French grandmother, and Callan ably conveys both French and American sensibilities in this engrossing, advice-filled book. She went to France and interviewed many women — and men — for this book, and she is able to interpret for us the French understanding of life in a way that many other writers have attempted but have not done so well.
   While some of her tips will sound familiar, some observations you won’t find in other such books. Here’s a sampling:
   Quit buying so many clothes — but spend a bit on good perfume and lovely, matching lingerie.
   Stop dating. Bet you hadn’t heard that one before. Read the book to find out why the American way of girl-meets-boy is fraught with problems.
   Get off the computer.
   Stop dieting.
   Start cooking.
   Quit trying to be like other women.
   Keep your secrets.
   Stop worrying! Life is meant to be a pleasure.
   French women don’t chase love as some grim game that they have to win while believing the odds are stacked against them. They accept love as the natural consequence of living a life open to wonderful possibilities. Life as struggle, or life as pleasure? Well, let me think.


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