Harriet Welty Rochefort: "Joie de Vivre"
Reading & Book Signing in English
Join us for an evening of sparkling joie de vivre with Harriet Welty Rochefort, an American bi-national who has lived in France for four decades with her "very French" husband, and is the author of three books about the French: French Toast, French Fried, and her latest, Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining, and Romancing Like the French (St. Martin's Press 2012) which she is happy to present to Alliance Française members in Birmingham.
For Welty Rochefort, it’s clear that the French possess a unique gift for injecting joie de vivre in every aspect of their lives. Men and women openly look at each other in the streets and if no one looks, well, better to die. At French dinner parties, the guests not only wine and dine divinely but thrive on lively conversation about vacations, the latest art exhibitions, and films, and even and especially controversial topics, but never, never business and money which is considered both boring and vulgaire. In France, « small is good », whether it’s the little black dress or a teeny cup of expresso. The French revel in the moment, appreciate the time spent in making and enjoying a perfect feast, pay attention to the slightest detail, whether flowers on the table or a knockout accessory on a simple outfit, and work hard when not enjoying their (considerable) leisure time without an ounce of guilt. Their joie de vivre can come where you least expect it : For the French it’s better to have a chagrin d’amour than no amour at all, and to paraphrase Pasteur’s « a day without wine is a day without sunshine », for the Frenchman a day without discord is a day without a kick. They have fun (yes, fun !) when they fuss and feud, squabble and shrug.
When it comes to savoir-faire, savoir-vivre, and joie de vivre, the author is convinced the French are unbeatable. When it comes to being paradoxical, they’re equally gifted: the French have been known to elevate the word « rude » to new heights, but they are the most polite people in the world – when they want to be. Welty Rochefort chose to live in France because she knew that she would escape ennui – and she did. With good humor and genuine affection for the prickly, paradoxical, and pleasure-seeking Gauls, she takes the reader on her own personal journey through the often byzantine French mindset, showing how joie de vivre permeates their way of life, precisely because in France there’s no « pursuit of happiness ». Fortunately, in France, she discovered that you don’t have to « pursue » happiness. It pursues you.
The author of Joie observes that "there have been so many books about the French that I think I should distinguish mine from the rest of the pack. I think that the insider view coming from four decades of total immersion in French life (French husband, in-laws, children who have attended French schools, the speaking of French at home and basically all the time) is what gives my books their unique insight." She says she remains as American as apple pie but explains in Joie how, through her love of France and sheer osmosis, she did indeed become "a little bit French". To learn more about Harriet Welty Rochefort and her writing you may visit her websites at www.harrietweltyrochefort.com or www.understandfrance.org
Copies of Joie de Vivre will be available for purchase and signing at the event.
Date: Oct. 11
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: 105 Hulsey Recital Hall, map