The author of a cross-cultural study on infidelity turns her judicious eye to the differences between American and Parisian childrearing.
When Druckerman (Lust in Translation, 2007) was laid off from her job as an international reporter for the Wall Street Journal, she willingly reunited with British journalist Simon, whom she’d met six months earlier. Their romance relocated her to his “two-room bachelor pad” in Paris where an expected culture clash awaited. An “Atkins-leaning vegetarian,” Druckerman found particular discordance with Parisian cuisine and social norms. After getting pregnant, the author became obsessively worrisome and at odds with the structure of French childbirth and childrearing, though she was amazed at how inexplicably well-behaved and good-natured Parisian children seemed. Intent on uncovering the secret to French nurturing, she began some “investigative parenting,” and the American expat waded through her daughter Bean’s crucial developmental years fortified by what Parisian parents taught their own children. Druckerman’s epiphanies include how months-old French babies sleep through the night via the “pause” technique and, soon after, are taught the art of patience. She demystifies the day-care “crèche” and preschool “maternelle,” and how French mothers return to top physical shape (and their jobs) following childbirth. The author is a delightfully droll storyteller with an effortless gift of gab that translates well to the page. She backs up assumptions and associated explorations with historical parenting examples and comparisons that temper her skepticisms with an authoritative air. With twins on the way, Druckerman eventually acclimated to the guarded, good-natured bonhomie of Paris and struck a happy medium between French methods and her own parenting preferences.
A quirky family saga of an American mother in Paris.