Tag Archives: France

Bringing up Bebe


Title: Bringing Up Bebe

Author: Pamela Druckerman

Publisher: Penguin Press, NY 2012

Summary: This is less a manual on raising children than it is a comparison on how mostly upper middle class children are raised in France and America. Pamela Druckerman, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal, lives in Paris with her husband and three children. She started to think about “French parenting” after experiencing restaurant hell while on vacation with her first child, an 18 month old. Dinner was a horrifying, embarrassing experience involving picking up torn napkins and sugar packets, running after the child and leaving large tips to compensate for the mess left behind. After a few meals she noticed that the French families with children the same age as her daughter actually seemed to be enjoying themselves. The French children were sitting and eating, not shrieking, running around and tossing food and condiments on the floor. You can either consider this situation in the light of your own, possibly too relaxed, parenting skills or write a book about the differences between French and American parenting tactics. Pamela Druckerman decided on option #2.

I’m loath to condemn this entire country for sloppy, permissive parenting but I’m sure everyone knows that family with the kids that you just want to smack with a rolled up newspaper. I’ve never understood the concept of the child as the head of the household. Unless you’re contributing an income stream that far exceeds my own (and there probably are three year olds that do have an income stream that far exceeds my own) you might be a part of the household, but you are not the head. And that is a concept that does come through loud and clear in Bringing Up Bebe, the child is a part of the family unit, not the center. But is that a cultural concept or just plain common sense?

Two more desired attributes in a child that are mentioned in Druckerman’s book are the cultivation of self-reliance and allowing the child the freedom to learn on their own. I don’t know if there’s a term for “helicopter parent” in the French lexicon. Druckerman mentions her intention to childproof their apartment while renovating, including placing kidproof locks on every appliance and installing the type of oven door that doesn’t get hot. Her contractor, Regis, says the best way to childproof an oven is to “let the kid touch it once and he’ll quickly learn it’s hot.” Those second degree burns are a real learning experience.

I can’t imagine anyone actually wanting to raise a spoiled, dependent, self-centered child who is incapable of amusing themselves, a constant annoyance to everyone around them and will grow up lacking the skills needed to become an independent, self- supporting adult that you will be stuck with until you have the good fortune to die and then they will be cast homeless, helpless and clueless into the street to live out the rest of their miserable life eating from garbage cans and swilling cheap wine under a viaduct. But it happens.

Who Will Like This: Anyone interested in differing parenting techniques.

If you like this, try this: How Eskimos keep their babies warm : and other adventures in parenting around the world (from Argentina to Tanzania and everywhere in between) by Mei-Ling Hopgood Battle hymn of the tiger mother by Chua, Amy.

Recommended by: Sue D’Num, Library Assistant

Does this look like a book that interests you? Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available or to place a hold! [Link will open in a new window]



Author:  Marlena de Blasi

Publisher: Random House, May 2010

Summary: Amandine is the first novel written by Marlena de Blasi, an author known for her memoir writing. The story is captivating and the author’s writing is simply beautiful, filled with sense details and unforgettable characters. Amandine is born out of wedlock into an aristocratic family in Krakow, Poland in 1931. She is born with a heart defect and not expected to survive. Under the pretext of bringing her to a hospital in Switzerland, Amandine’s  grandmother brings her to a remote convent in France. The Countess arranges to leave the child at the convent with a large sum of money and in the care of a governess, Solange Jouffroi. As a young child, Amandine is doted on by the nuns, Pere Philippe and Solange, but suffers cruelty and humiliation at the hands of the Abbess Mother Paul and the other children attending school at the convent. This cruelty, compounded by the abandonment by her mother, causes Amandine to believe there is something wrong with her. After a tragedy involving Amandine is barely averted, Solange takes her on a harrowing journey north through occupied France toward the governess’s home. Leaving their sheltered life in the convent, the pair discovers the horrors of war all around them. Meanwhile, Amandine’s birth mother, having just recently discovered that her child did not die at the hospital in Switzerland, has begun her own journey to find her. This is a story that will stay with you long after you’ve read it.

Who will like this book? Fans of historical fiction.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

The Secret Wife of Louis XIV

Title: The Secret Life of Louis XIV: Francoise d’Aubigne, Madame de Maintenon

Author: Veronica Buckley

Summary: Francoise d’Aubigne was born in a French prison, the youngest child of a minor, rebellious noble. She died over 80 years later as the widow of the King of France. Though her marriage to Louis XIV could never be formally acknowledged due to an extraordinary difference in social rank, Francoise had a profound influence on the Sun King, and reigned as an uncrowned queen during the most glorious era in French history.

This very readable biography immerses the reader in 17th century France, an era of absolute royal power, intense religious conflict and very limited opportunities for women. Author Buckley does a masterful job illuminating the lives of the royal ladies of Versailles and the salons of Paris. That d’Aubigne managed to rise from her humble beginnings to the pinnacle of power is incredible – and that she did so by remaining steadfast, loyal and humble in the dangerous court of the king seems almost miraculous.

Who will like this book?: Readers interested in royal biography and women’s history.

If you like this, try this: Love and Louis XIV: The Women in the Life of the Sun King by Antonia Fraser. A book about another of Louis’ paramours, Mistress of the Sun by Sandra Gulland. A terrific historical fiction on Marie Antoinette,  Abundanceby Sena Jeter Naslund

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian