Monday, 29 September 2014

Early birthday present

And my first purchase :-)
My Birthday present

On Saturday afternoon I sent my husband out to get me my birthday present, and I'm not ashamed of saying it. During the past 12 years, I've had my fair share of bizarre presents and sometimes, even after telling him exactly what I wanted, I still ended up with the wrong thing. When I let him choose, I always got something completely unexpected (and not in a good way). That's how I got a plastic shoe rack from LIDL for Christmas many years ago. Except I only have about four pair of shoes. On another occasion, I told him exactly the name of the fragrance I wanted. What did I get? Not one, but two bottles of a completely different perfume. Seriously, how can someone be confused between Image by Cerruti and Allure by Chanel? Well, my man can...

This time, after getting very clear instructions, he came back home with my new toy: an Amazon Kindle. I wanted to get an e-book reader for a long time, especially because I don't have much space to store books in the apartment. That lack of space led to less and less reading over the years unfortunately, and one of my new year (well, September) resolutions was to read more books. 

I'm also in need of inspiration. I've been trying to write my own expat memoir about my experience as a French girl living in Ireland, but I'm just struggling to be honest. I can't seem to find the right structure, I've written about fifty pages and I'm stuck. I thought that starting a blog would give me that discipline I need to write a book , but it doesn't really... Why are the words flowing (more or less) when I write a post, but seem so bland and uninteresting when I try to tell the story of that shy young girl who left everything in France to start a new life in Dublin?

For some reason, I've always been drawn to reading memoirs, from quite a young age. Not the celebrity biographies, but extraordinary stories written by ordinary people. I think I have the ability to put myself in somebody else's shoes. I always manage to identify or empathise with the authors of the memoirs I read, even if I never experienced the situations they described. I even shocked my French teacher in Seconde (5th year equivalent), when I told her my favourite book was "Christiane F.", the story of a 13 years old German drug-addict and prostitute.

Surprisingly, I haven't read many expat memoirs. And that's how this birthday present will come useful. I need ideas, I need inspiration from people like me, who left their home country to start a new adventure abroad. 

So of course,the first book I bought on my new kindle was Liz Ryan's memoir, "French Leave". I wanted to read it for a while, and sadly my local bookshop didn't have it in stock. 
Liz is an Irish writer who left her job and sold her house in Dublin to move to Normandy. I'm laughing out loud at her misadventures with the Gendarmes, surveyor, or even neighbours. So far in the book (I'm only on chapter 5), her representation of the French population is quite accurate. I can't wait to see how everything unfolds. She seems to be a really grounded person, who took a chance and had the courage to start a new life in a foreign land. She learned French, mixed with the locals and tried to integrate as much as she could in her new surroundings.

So yeah, I'm pretty happy with my Birthday present. I can't wait to finish that book and read many more. And maybe, just maybe, it will give me the kick I need to finish writing my own story...