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New York Times – April 3, 2012
"...If 'Dreaming in French' often seems like elegant grasping, there
are few writers whom I’d rather grasp along with. Ms. Kaplan’s prose
is inquisitive and supple; she’s never less than good company.
...'Dreaming in French' is itself a dreamy book, in ways both fuzzy
and clarifying. It is always eloquent, however, about one thing:
Learning a foreign language, as Bouvier put it, 'doubled life'.”
Salon - March 26, 2012
“Superbly perceptive… …Tracing the effect of an unlived fantasy on a
person’s actual life is a delicate operation, but then so is
accounting for the influence of that first immersion in a foreign
country. Kaplan writes of her subjects that ‘the deep history of
their transformation involved smells and tastes and visions —
fleeting sensual experiences not easy to capture in a conventional
life story.’ An eccentric landlady or the first sampling of couscous
can make an indelible impression on a sensibility cast wide open by
travel, an impression that can in turn color ideas and feelings for
decades to come. No, it’s not easy to capture such things, but
Kaplan proves that it can be done.”
-- Laura Miller
Publishers Weekly Starred Review - February 6, 2012
"This is an enduring group profile of three influential yet
completely different American women, for each of whom Paris played a
short but transformative role, over three tumultuous decades.
Jacqueline Bouvier—who would become Vogue’s It Girl and then, in
Kaplan’s words, “the eternal First Lady”—found in 1949 Paris the
aesthetics, pleasures, and discipline that would serve her all her
life. In 1957, Susan Sontag hit the Parisian ground running from her
husband and five-year-old son in America to imbibe the freedoms of
Europe. On hand during the breakdown of the old colonial
dispensation, Sontag would even be buried in Paris. Angela Davis,
like Miss Bouvier, traveled with a student group. In a French resort
shortly before reaching Paris, on a late-summer day in 1963, she
learned of the Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Ala., her
hometown. Her ever-increasing radicalization back in the U.S. was
applauded by myriad French intellectuals. The much-admired Kaplan
(French Lessons: A Memoir) focuses sharply on three women of
successive generations, providing a keen feminist-cultural picture
of Paris’s enduring, if varied, impact."