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Download When in French: Love in a Second Language Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample When in French: Love in a Second Language Audiobook, by Lauren Collins Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lauren Collins Narrator: Khristine Hvam Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2016 ISBN: 9780735288188
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When New Yorker staff writer Lauren Collins moves to Geneva, Switzerland, she decides to learn French—not just to be able to go about her day-to-day life, but in order to be closer to her French husband and his family. When in French is at once a hilarious and idiosyncratic memoir about the things we do for love, and an exploration across cultures and history into how we learn languages, and what they say about who we are.

In her late twenties, Lauren Collins moved to London, and fell in love with, and married, Olivier, a handsome French mathematician. When he has to relocate to Geneva for his work, she decides to go with him. In Geneva, however, Lauren is lost for words, literally: not only can she not communicate to the local chimney-sweep when he visits, but, watching Olivier converse fluently in French every day, she is also made painfully aware that she has never really spoken to her husband in his own language. She can say, “au revoir” and “bonjour” but that’s about it. “Hello and goodbye were a pair of bookends,” she writes, “propping up a vast library of blank volumes, void almanacs, novels full of sentiment I couldn’t apprehend.” What will happen when she has children? she wonders. If they grow up speaking French, will they be stuck with a “Borat of a mother” who can’t properly understand them?

So she embarks on a quest to learn French, and, in doing so, must tangle with the intricacies of French culture—which, it turns out, is a far cry from family life back home in North Carolina. Down the rabbit hole of French Collins hurtles; role-playing with her classmates at language school; coming to terms with antique French social customs; accidently writing explicit “thank you” notes to her French in-laws; and delving into the strange and wonderful history of humanity’s many forms of language.

When in French is a moving, laugh-out-loud funny memoir about falling in love, learning another language, and living far from home, as well as a freewheeling history of language. Collins investigates, among other things, how children acquire speech, the history of the idea of “American” as its own language, and why we don’t trust people who adopt accents. (Her own father takes on a southern accent after moving to North Carolina, much to her mother’s chagrin.) Plumbing the depths of the mysteries of foreign languages, Collins confesses—with style, sparkling humor, and touching honesty—to the frustrations, pleasures, surprises, and, finally, satisfactions of learning French.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This smart memoir…is an extended essay on how the languages we speak shape who we are.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “[A] cleverly organized, well-written…memoir filled with pleasing passages in every chapter.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Infusing warmth and humor into her narration, Khristine Hvam brings out the range of emotions that the author experiences as she attempts to understand the nuances of languages that cause numerous misunderstandings in her marriage. Hvam’s mostly polished French accent reflects a woman who becomes intent on learning French after discovering that language is power. Articulate and heartfelt, Hvam’s narration expresses the multifaceted and fascinating aspects of language and how it affects one’s identity.”

    AudioFile

  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for September 2016
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About the Author

Lauren Collins began working at the New Yorker in 2003 and became a staff writer in 2008. Her subjects have included Michelle Obama, Donatella Versace, the graffiti artist Banksy, and the chef April Bloomfield. Since 2010 she has been based in Europe, covering stories from London, Paris, Copenhagen, and beyond. Her story on the Daily Mail was short-listed for the Feature Story of the Year by the Foreign Press Association in London.

About the Narrator

Khristine Hvam has won six AudioFile Earphones Awards, placed three times as a finalist for the prestigous Audie Award, and won the Audie for best narration in 2012 and 2013. She studied acting for the theater and film, and her voice can be heard in Pokémon, World of Warcraft, and in various television and radio commercials.