Chic in France is an entertaining, contemporary romance of 8.600 words . Claire has fallen hard for her New York colleague Jack who only raves about the elegance of French women. Exasperated, she decides to fly to Nice to judge things for herself. Bowled over by the French way of doing things, she ends up meeting Jacques and learns more than she counted on . . .
Beate Boeker specializes in short, romantic stories, always told with an insightful sense of self, a bit of deprecation, but in the end a woman triumphant. I love her heroines!
And Boeker is so funny:
“I rose with heaving bosom. Well, that’s not quite true because my bosom isn’t large enough to heave unless I jump to and fro, but if I had a bosom, it would have done just that. ‘I’ll fly to France, Jack, and nothing you can do will stop me.’”
Despite total lack of experience, and with much head shaking by Jack, she does just that. She walks through Nice, and exhausted, rests and talks to her coffee cup. Chance perhaps — that conversation attracts Jacques.
“His accent made my tired toes tingle. Jack had never mentioned that accent, that melt-your-heart way of speaking with a lilt and without any h. Maybe he had never talked to all those beauties he kept raving about.”
Our heroine and Jacques explore the shoe shops of Nice, the hidden paths and byways, the restaurants, and in a very chaste way, each other.
Her final postcard goes to Jack: “Am spending delightful days at the Cote d’Azur and have discovered the beautiful French women you referred to in passing. They are indeed stunning. However, how come you never mentioned the men? Have just arranged to stay longer. Claire”
Two other points are worth making. After a period of mourning my first wife, I’ve started dating again, and was lucky enough to find a lady who was born and lived in France until she was 25 and then moved and has lived in New York City ever since. It’s been great fun teasing out her French attributes from the New Yorker personality she has now become. Boeker captures an essential attribute of my friend’s Frenchness in the following passage:
“In French we say ‘J’ai du nez’, which literally translates as ‘I’ve got some nose.” That doesn’t make sense, I know.’ He grinned. ‘But it means that you had the right instinct, that you felt your way to the truth quicker than others did.”
Both my friend in our personal relationship, and Boeker in her writing have ‘J’ai du nez’. Boeker is subtle, and very clever. Note, for example, the theme of toes, feet, shoes, that come up time after time in this story, each time in a new context, each time adding a bit to the plot, the setting or the characters of Claire and Jacques. Note the use of the names of the two men in her life: “Jack” and “Jacques” and in the postcard the implied “John”. Boeker has a real sense of the writer’s “J’ai du nez”.
I’m still smiling about this lovely introduction to France, shades of Daisy Miller without the angst. My friend shared that joy when I read it aloud to her this morning.
Robert C. Ross – Top 50 Amazon Reviewer
I always enjoy reading books where I indentify with the characters – and more importantly, like them. This delightful story, written in a fresh, breezy voice made me want to get on the next plane to France!
CHIC IN FRANCE is a delightful, light summer read! Ms. Boeker did a great job with the descriptions, and since I’ve been to France, I could picture where Claire visited. If you’re looking for a short, fun book, I’d encourage you to download CHIC IN FRANCE.
“French women,” Jack said, “have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi.”
I hate it when Jack speaks French to me, but I nodded and pretended I understood.
“A certain something,” Jack now beamed at me, his blue eyes shining.
I couldn’t help myself, I beamed back, even though I wanted to tell him to forget about French women and to concentrate on me. That was the least he could do, after all, I had invited him for lunch again at our favorite diner on the corner of 42nd and 3rd, but no.
“They have such chic, an undefinable air . . . “ He made a move with his hands as if he held a treasure, then dropped them. “I can’t describe it.”
Then don’t, I thought.
His long lashes lowered, and he gazed into my eyes.
I swallowed and tried to look just as sophisticated as all these French women, but I had the odd impression that he didn’t see me.
It’s not as if Jack had spent a year or so in France. Not at all. He spent six days, not even a whole week, at the Côte d’Azur last month, and ever since his return, I’ve been forced to listen to him, describing a million luscious French women. We work together at the smallest and most chaotic advertising agency in the whole of New York City, and I thought our lunches kept me sane . . . until he started to rave about the French. It sounds as if every single one of them is a beauty, while we, in the States, have never yet managed to churn out anything half as delectable.
“Don’t forget Grace Kelly.” I lifted my fork as if I was upholding the US flag. “She managed to enchant the whole French nation, and she was American.” Having made my point, I leaned against the plastic covered back of my seat and speared a piece of salad with my fork.
Jack waved Grace Kelly away. “She was an ice-queen,” he said. “Besides, that was Monaco, not France.”
Great. Now I felt stupid.
Jack’s eyes returned to the dreamy look I hated. Unless it had to do with me, of course. “French women move with such sexy elegance . . .”
Now why did that make me feel like an elephant?
“. . . they have fire, a certain je-ne-sais-quoi.”
I didn’t point out that he was repeating himself. Instead, I munched my salad in silence. What on earth could I do to make Jack forget these fascinating French women and concentrate, for a change, on me? True, my hair is neither Grace-blond nor Latin black but something nondescript in between, and I’m not sexy. Never was. My mother says I was the boniest baby she’d ever seen. Nothing cuddly about me. Not then. Not now.
That evening, I went home in a state of dejection. Just as I maneuvered my huge sports bag and myself through the door, I hit my toe against the frame. Hot pain darted through my foot. I groaned. “How can you be so clumsy, Claire?” I dragged my bag through the door. “A French woman would never be so . . . “ I stopped in mid-sentence.
Good God. If I started to rave about French women myself, it was time to do something.
It felt like a revelation and came without warning.
I had an idea.