I first met Samantha Vèrant in 2014, when she wrote a spectacular memoir called “Seven Letters from Paris” about reconnecting with the love of her life after twenty years apart. He, a Frenchman, and she, an American. They had met while Samantha was doing the whirlwind tour of Europe while in college. But it was brief. She was not ready for a commitment so when he sent her letters she never wrote back…
Fast forward twenty years, a divorce, a lot of debt, and feeling sorry for herself as well as being alone, Sam and Jean-Luc reconnect over a series of emails and phone calls. They discover they still have the connection. It’s a dream come true. And so is the first book. So when this one appeared I just had to read it.
“How to Make a French Family” is a continuation of their love story. Now that they are married and Samantha has actually moved to France and is making it her home, what happens now? Will there be nothing but rays of sunshine and starry nights? I was afraid that’s what it would be. Vèrant does a great job of sharing her world. The world she’s in the middle of making with the love of her life and his two children. Children can be difficult. And these two have already got baggage. Their mother died and their father remarried a young woman who was threatened by them. They were all miserable in the end. You can only imagine how they must have felt when Jean-Luc decided to marry yet again. There are tears, fights, yelling, and a lot of misunderstanding as Sam gets to really understand the French language and the kids get to really know her.
Through all the red tape of moving to another country to live: the drivers license and bureaucracy, I would get through it okay. It’s the not having friends who speak English that might grate on me the most. So when Sam discovers other ex-pats who are nearby and befriends them, I am so happy for her. After all, she needs them. They need each other.
This new family lives in paradise. They live just outside Toulouse. They’re near the shore. And they have luscious markets filled with fresh seasonal foods. Samantha is quite the cook. In fact, there are dozens of recipes in the book: both hers and Jean-Luc’s. And they’re good. Take advantage of them. I think their love of food and cooking helped to bond the entire family. Even though there were some missteps for the kids. After all, have you ever tried to make a meal for more than one kid? There is usually going to be at least one thing someone will not eat.
I really enjoyed reconnecting with Samantha and her new family. You can visit her website find out more about her life. I was even able to watch a video of her wedding albeit a grainy one. Very cool. And you will simply want to dash right out and buy her first memoir if you haven’t already read it.
I thank Sourcebooks for sending my trade paper copy. It’s just super!