Jennie Goutet is not only my friend, but also the author of a brand new memoir: A Lady in France. Her book appealed to me on multiple levels, and I’ve always been drawn to Jennie’s openness and honesty when it comes to addressing tough subjects. I have felt a kinship with her for several years now, and so I eagerly devoured each chapter, always yearning for more.
If I’m being completely up front, I was apprehensive about reviewing her book because I knew a big piece of it was about religion and Christianity. And I’m not a very religious person. I’m Jewish, but for me, it’s more about the culture, heritage, and the traditions, and less about the spirituality, prayer, and God. Jennie chronicles her journey to God in a way that didn’t feel preachy or condescending at all; in fact, if anything, it’s made me question the depth and breadth of my core religious values.
Jennie’s book opens when she’s 19 years old, studying abroad during her junior year of college.
Why did I go to France in the first place if I was so fearful?
And I am one of the most fearful people you can meet. I have been terrified of
everything outside of my small life, haunted by the “what ifs,” accosted by
worry and the fear of flying or of grief, ever since I can remember.”
Jennie is painfully honest throughout her book, and confessions like these bring us closer to her. The irony of it, however, is that time and time again, she comes up against something so scary and instead of running away, she confronts the very thing that terrifies her. It’s also inspiring to read about someone (whom I can so closely identify with) abandoning everything to chase after her dreams…literally, since Jennie dreamed at age 17 about meeting and marrying a French man. And she sets out to find him and do just that.
Jennie will hold your hand and bring you along with her as she comes up against loss (suicide and death), depression, and addiction. She’ll describe the cultures and scenery with such vivid detail that it seems as if you’re right there with her; you’ll feel the monsoon, curse the Celiac disease, weep for the dying baby in her arms. You’ll fight back tears when she loses her brother and her fourth child, Alistair. You’ll cheer when she marries Matthieu and they bring their babies into the world. And you’ll laugh with recognition as she appreciates the little things (Fanta and hot showers), schleps strollers up and down stairs, and deals with construction workers and their endless dust.
Jennie manages to woo us with her grace and her immense well of gratitude…that never runs dry despite the many miles she travels, the experiences she has, and the life lessons she learns along the way.
What are you waiting for? Buy your paperback copy of A Lady in France on Amazon! (you can also get it on Kindle there!)
Want to connect with the author, Jennie Goutet? Of course you do!
Jennie blogs at A Lady in France and is a contributing author to Sunshine After the Storm — A Survival Guide For the Grieving Mother. She was a BlogHer Voice of the Year pick two years running, and her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, Queen Latifah’s website, and BlogHer, among other places. She lives just outside of Paris with her husband and three children.