What French Women Know

About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind

By Debra Ollivier
(Berkley Trade, Paperback, 9780425236482, 272pp.)

Publication Date: September 7, 2010

Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover, Paperback

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The Los Angeles Times bestseller! "A Gallic prescription for living a life that is richer, more sensual, messier, and a lot more fun" (Boston Globe)

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 accept the passage of time, celebrate the immediacy of pleasure, embrace ambiguity and imperfection, and prefer having a life to making a living.

In What French Women Know, Debra Ollivier goes beyond stale ooh- la-la stereotypes, challenging ingrained notions about sex, love, marriage, motherhood, and everything in between. With savvy, provocative thinking from French mistresses and maidens alike, Ollivier presents a refreshing counterpoint to the tired love dogma of our times, and offers realistic, liberating alternatives from the land that knows how to love.

Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com


  1. In France, French girls do not pick flowers and ponder love with “He loves me, he loves me not;” rather they say “He loves me a little. A lot. Passionately. Madly. Not at all.” Ollivier uses this as a metaphor throughout the book to illustrate how French women are groomed to think not in terms of absolute love or total rejection, but in nuances, degrees of passion, possibili­ties, and shades of gray. How has our tendency to be binary about love (He loves me, he loves me not) influenced our rela­tionships? How might this mindset conspire against freedom and the ability to enjoy men, with or without closure? How would you be different if you grew up looking at love not in black-and-white, but in shades of gray?

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