Dreaming in French
By Megan McAndrew
(Scribner, Hardcover, 9781416599722, 320pp.)
Publication Date: September 1, 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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A compelling and poignant coming-of-age story about a sharply observant American girl’s young adulthood in Paris and New York set against the backdrop of Europe’s most turbulent decade—for readers of Curtis Sittenfeld, Diane Johnson, and Lorrie Moore.
For Charlotte Sanders, a precocious and privileged fifteen-year-old American girl growing up in Paris in the late 1970s, life has a dreamy quality. Her father, a lawyer and quiet intellectual, spends evenings reading Balzac in his study and listening to opera. Her sister is a star rider at the equestrian club. And her mother Astrid is charming, gor- geous, and charismatic. But Charlotte’s peaceful existence is turned upside down when Astrid has an affair with a Polish Communist-resister and the family is shattered. Charlotte and her mother move to New York, where reduced circumstances and Astrid’s unwillingness to face reality force Charlotte to quickly grow up. Charlotte observes her mother’s stylish ego- centricity with both disdain and awe as she lives through her own unhappy love affair and finally confronts the emotional scars left by her parents’ divorce.
Featuring pitch-perfect descriptions of Parisian life, this enchanting story is warm, witty, and smart. It is an endear- ing portrayal of the challenges of adolescence and an honest account of one girl’s discovery that where we come from makes us who we are.
Megan McAndrew grew up in France, Spain, and Belgium and worked in Warsaw, Poland as a representative for the World Financial Services Volunteer Corps. She is a graduate of Brown University and the Yale School of Management. Megan lives in Brooklyn, New York with her teenage son.
“McAndrew can do cross-cultural humor with the flair of Diane Johnson, but she also has her own kind of sophistication—an international knowingness coupled with an American practicality.”
--The New York Times
“McAndrew has immense talent for calling up vastly different settings in precise detail, and her observations, as realized by her clear-eyed protagonist, are deliciously sharp-edged. Dense with context and deeply nuanced, yet effortlessly readable. McAndrew is a real find.”
“A sophisticated coming-of-age story.”
“McAndrew's casual but assured depictions of life among the upper crust of Paris and New York and wry voice, make this coming-of-age novel a delectable treat.
“McAndrew’s novel brings an original sensibility as well as a plot that takes satisfying, unexpected turns.”
--The New York Times