- Fizzy Thoughts: Foreign Tongue

Foreign Tongue

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Foreign Tongue
Vanina Marsot
April 2009
368 pages

Sick of seeing her ex-boyfriend all around (he has a tendency to pop up in the news and magazines), Anna decides to relocate. To Paris. Thanks to her French father, she is fluent in French; thanks to a year abroad, she has friends in the city; and thanks to her aunt, she has a place to stay. It's a pretty sweet deal. Except she's still miserable over the rat bastard that cheated on her.

Once in Paris, Anna manages to pick up a translating job. The work is a bit mysterious, though. The project is hush-hush...she does not know who the author is, and she only receives one chapter at a time to translate. And to top it off, the work is a bit risque. And not even poetically risque...more like this-is-crap-risque. Except, she kind of gets hooked on the story.

As Anna struggles with the nuances of translation and the puzzle of the author of the aforementioned risque book, she also struggles (again) with her love life. She meets Olivier, a French actor, and deals with issues of trust, commitment and honesty. Is her past affecting her ability to believe in her new boyfriend, or is he really just another rat bastard?

Also, there was the totally unexpected ending. Not so much with the mysterious author, because I did see that one coming, and not with Olivier, but something else came from way out in left field that made me go whoa. This book actually has a lot going on (not in a bad, confusing way) and all of the different story arcs make this more than just a girl-on-the-rebound novel.

Finally, if you have ever yearned to live in Paris, this book will just make that desire even worse. Foreign Tongue does not take you on a tour of the Paris tourist sites. Rather, it is set among the cafes and bookstores and apartments of everyday Parisian life. Added to that are quotes and words and phrases in French. This book made Literate Housewife want to study French. It made me wish I had paid more attention in my high school French classes. It also made me wish for more books like this.

And now, I'll leave you with a few photos from my last (brief) trip to Paris. Not my first choice of photos, but the rest are on a flash drive that is, of all places, at work.


la tour Eiffel

booksellers on the left bank

Notre Dame

more linkies:
interview with Vanina at Literate Housewife
Lisa's review at Books on the Brain
Festival of Books Window on the World panel with Vanina Marsot

18 comment(s):

Diane said...

What gorgeous photos! I just came across your blog today and wanted to tell you that I think it is great!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Beautiful pictures! I can imagine that reading about Paris would make you want to go back!

Beth F said...

Sob. sob, sob. I can't get back over for at least 18 months. I wanna go now.

Chris said...

I just read this book and really liked it too, more for the asides about the French language and culture and peeks at Paris than for the story.

I was disappointed that the heroine didn't grow up and get over her whiney-teenage-girl approach to romance, and I thought that surprise ending was a little contrived.

Ali said...

I haven't been to Paris since I was 20, and I still dream about it sometimes. *Sigh* Thanks for the pictures.

Literary Feline said...

This sounds like a great book. I admit to being a bit hesitant to try it because the description gives it that girl-on-the-rebound feel to it, but you have me very curious now. Thank you for the wonderful review, and for the beautiful photos from your trip.

bermudaonion said...

We lived in France for two years, so I'm really interested in reading this book.

Pam said...

Thanks for this review. I read anything I can find on Paris. I've never been and it seems like such a magical place to me.

Melody said...

Will have to add this book onto my wishlist!

Great pics! One of my dreams is to tour around US and Europe so hopefully this will be fulfilled in the very near future!!!

Ti said...

I skimmed over the part about the ending since I am only about half way thru the book but I enjoyed the pics. You are so lucky to have visited Paris.

Gentle Reader said...

Great photos from your trip! I enjoyed this book, too, and felt similarly about the ending. Sort of surprising! I definitely enjoyed the atmosphere of the book, the everyday Parisian life stuff--made me want to visit Paris in a bad way!

Karen said...

I am going to Paris in September - can't wait!! I might have to read this one before I go I think.

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Love the photos (and the catchy title to this book!)....I miss Paris.

Joanne said...

Great review! This book sounds alot more fun and interesting than I had guessed from the cover.
Love your pics, especially the book sale one! Visiting would be awesome for the architecture alone.

lilly said...

being a translator myself, I think I would enjoy this book trmendously. There aren't all that many books where trnsaltion if the subject matter or a translator a main character.

Thank you also for your kind words on my profile change and mood swings. I really appreciated them.

Ladytink_534 said...

Great review and photos! I can't speak French to save my soul but I sure would love to visit for at least a weekend one day.

LisaMM said...

Hi Jill! In that second photo, what are the reflective areas on the ground, windows?

Great review. I hope to get to Paris some day. The book really made me want to go!

Louise said...

Great great! Liked your review and it sounds like an interesting book. I live less than 24 hours by train from Paris, yet I've only visited once ;o) I have nothing against Paris, it is a fabulous city, but I'd much rather visit USA than the same old European cities ;-) And I don't speak French very good, although I've been taught French for four years in advanced class. LOL!!!

In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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