I have just had my first meeting in French. It was a lunch in an Italian restaurant in St Germain with the French publisher of Two Lipsticks and a Lover and the hottest publicist in Paris, hired by the publisher to promote the book.
I was of course terrified. First of all what do you wear to a meeting with two Parisian women? Then there was the question of if I could make myself understood in French or if they would laugh at my pronunciation and non-existant grammar.
My publisher, called Karine, was sweet as you like. Young, pretty, kind, charming, attentive. The publicist was just like one of those perfect French women I write about in the book. She was thin, elegant, dressed in black with perfect red lipstick. I suddenly felt dowdy, although she was kind enough to notice that my top was Emporio Armani (handed down from my aunt in the days when she used to speak to me) and told me I was “tres elegante“.
This did put me at ease to a certain extent, but did not detract from the fact that she was scarily reminiscent of Meryl Streep in The Devil wears Prada. I am sure she is the hottest publicist in Paris, who would dare to say no to her? Not me, that’s for sure. I expected her to say “that’s all” at any moment and dismiss me.
So here I am on the train bound for home with Elle, Marie-Claire, Liberation and Le Monde to read. And I have promised to speak French to my children.
“If you can’t express yourself in March when the book comes out it will be a catastrophe,” she told me.
The reading list I can cope with, but can you imagine the derison from my children as I tell them to pick up their toys or do their homework in French? They will be able to disobey me constantly, telling me they didn’t understand what I was saying. So no change there.
After my good cop, bad cop encounter I had a photo session. I stood on busy Parisian shopping streets, craning my neck to see what bargains I was missing out on, as a photographer took pictures of me for the book jacket. So another fantasy (that of being a model) has become reality – not a bad start to the year.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2008