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Publisher's Summary

It's not the shoes, the scarves, or the lipstick that gives French women their allure. It's this: French women don't give a damn. They don't expect men to understand them. They don't care about being liked or being like everyone else. They generally reject notions of packaged beauty. They accept the passage of time; celebrate the immediacy of pleasure; like to break rules; embrace ambiguity and imperfection; and prefer having a life to making a living.

They are, in other words, completely unlike us.

In her groundbreaking and utterly liberating new book, Debra Ollivier goes beyond familiar ooh-la-la stereotypes about French women, challenging cherished notions about sex, love, dating, marriage, motherhood, raising children, body politics, seduction, and flirtation. Peppered with anecdotes from its Franco-American author and filled with provocative thinking from French sexperts, mistresses and maidens alike, What French Women Know debunks long-standing myths and offers savvy new thinking from an old sexy culture.

Less a how-to and more a how-not-to (how not to be dogmatic about love, how not to "date", how not to mourn the end of youth), it presents a refreshing counterpoint to the stale love dogma of our times, and offers realistic, life-affirming alternatives from the land that knows how to love.

©2009 Debra Ollivier (P)2009 Penguin

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Now I know what French women know

I really like this book and highly recommend it. One good thing to know about French women is that they really like Men, a lot a lot. And vice versa for men--they like Women a lot a lot. That's a good start for both sides. Plus French women have a way of getting by the irritations and difficulties that men oftentimes present. The book reveals the secret of how French women stay trim: but I think it best to find out for yourself! It is most excellent advice compared to everything else written on the subject.

10 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Josiane
  • San Clemente, CA, USA
  • 04-19-10

The Truth and Nothing but the Truth

I was born and lived in France for 21 years. I really enjoyed your book that is extremely accurate about French Women in general. Living in America for many years and seeing the difference between the american woman and I always puzzled me. It is with pride that I finally understand the significance of being French and loving it. Your book is excellent. I look forward to promote it to my friends who in return will understand why I am so different from them. Thank you and Vive la difference!

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Barbara
  • Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • 08-15-10

Casual is good!

I have to disagree with the previous reviewer. I thought the author's narration was very good, changing pitch and adding an accent when the voice was to be delivered by one of her friends who shaped her conclusion about the difference between French and American women. I think the quality of the narration made the book fun to listen to and the content confirmed it. I found the content to be well laid out for the listener with citations and personal anecdotes to inform and entertain. I think casual makes for a easy and entertaining "read".

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Ollivier Gives French Perspective

Debra Ollivier gives a detailed overview of the contrast between French and American culture. This book is appealing to any reader in search of beautiful syntax and deep curiosity to become culturally educated. I did not know much about the French, and now I feel the need to relax and give myself the pleasure of indulging in life. There are a few things we can learn from French women. Let's not take ourselves so seriously.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Very good !

Where does What French Women Know rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I quite enjoyed the book, it was fun and very insightful! I would definitely recommend it for anyone, but .. perhaps as a paper book.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Debra Ollivier?

I don't know... but perhaps someone who isn't quite so... close to the material. The narration was quite good for the first half of the book, but towards the middle, every sentence started ending with a question-like tone? And it got really hard to listen to? Don't get me wrong, she has a lovely voice, but perhaps having someone else read it might have been preferable...

Any additional comments?

The stories were delightful though, and I loved the book, just thought I would put in my two cents!

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Trashy

Would not recommend this book. There are better books on this topic out there. There was a few good point but most of this book is just quotes and then trash in between. Not worth a credit!!!!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

When It Comes To Women I Wish I Lived In France

What did you love best about What French Women Know?

I loved the American perspective Debra Ollivier gained living in France with her French husband.

What did you like best about this story?

French being OK with shades of gray. Doesn't have to be black and white. Also, there is room for mystery in a relationship. The relationship doesn't have to become a counseling session. Men and women truly love and need eachother, sex is a good thing even in Marriage and older age.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Hearing about American's tendencies to be extreme one way or the other, no balance. Once I've heard that I see it everywhere in our culture. Extreme sports, extreme eating, giant portions of food and drink, extreme diets, workaholism, etc.

Any additional comments?

Interesting that French women aren't fat because it's a cultural standard to be skinny. Literally it's not acceptable in French culture.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly informative

I thought this was going to be fun, fluffy background noise. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ollivier's book had a lot of information to present. Informative, inspiring and intelligent.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • busy1
  • Washington
  • 07-05-16

Interesting perspective

What an enlightening insight into the cultural differences between French women and American women. Told in such an amusing way that it was impossible to take offense to the unflattering way that American women are portrayed in the book. I think it might be beneficial for myself to think of men in the way French women do. I might enjoy them more!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Flows of Life

I completely disagree with the idea of having affairs when married as long as you keep it quiet.

However, I do agree with the idea that there should be mystery with a woman with her man. The section on beauty is fantastic. I agree Americans want understanding and ruled ways of life, boxed up and easy to digest in a false happiness.

Also, the battle of the sexes and true feminism in America is a serious issue and is discussed in the book also.

Ironically some of these french ideas are very biblical (despite the book blaming protestant ideals being America's biggest problem but many protestant ideals weren't biblical either!)

Overall, it's a great book and the narrator is easy to listen to.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful