Monday, February 12, 2007

FAB PICK - LAURA FLORAND (and a contest!)

Again, it's my turn to share with you my Fabulous Author/Book Pick. This month, my FAb Pick (notice the big "A", because my pick is the Author, not the Book, yes?) is someone that is pretty familiar to most of you that hang out here. She was introduced to me last year over on Faster Than Kudzu, and I instantly fell in love with her. Oh geez, don't get squicky. I mean I fell in love with the way she writes. She's funny, she's smart, and she's written an entertaining book called Blame It on Paris. Yes, yes, yes, I'm talking about the FAB-ulous Laura Florand, or "Laura of the Truffles" as she's come to be known by many. If you want the full story on the truffles, I'm going to be pointing you towards some links (most of these go to blogs, so be sure to check out the comments or you'll be missing stuff) all week long. If you're not one of the people that actually clicks the links to get the full story, I'm going to tell you right now that you'll be missing out. Trust me, you'll enjoy the story on murder-for-truffles , and you'll especially appreciate all of Laura's hard work in the kitchen, because SHE'S MADE TRUFFLES FOR YOU!! Well, not for ALL of you, you understand? But for ONE of you. The truffles will go to the winner of today's contest. But don't worry, you've got all week to enter. And this contest is a little bit different, because you actually have to work for it. More on the contest later though, ok? Because really, all I wanna do is talk about the book.

When asked to describe her book in one sentence, you may remember that Laura said:

A perfectly friendly and NORMAL person from a small town in Georgia ends up in Paris where people jump back in fear when she smiles at them; she falls for a Parisian despite this and must deal with his COMPLETELY INSANE culture AND FAMILY, only to discover, when she drags him back to her world, that some aspects of it and of her own enormous family are just a little nutty when seen from his perspective, too; how will true love survive?

You may also remember that I said "And that perfectly describes the book". I wasn't kidding, but I have to tell you that if her description were the actual BCC, we'd have some problems. Because she didn't mention how funny her book is. And she didn't tell you that there would be parts where your breath got stuck in your throat when she describes one of those "Ah ha!" moments that sometimes happens in your life. And she didn't explain that she'd included everything from chocolate to grits to snails to explain the differences and similarities of the French and Southerners. And she forgot to include that the book is something like "Four Weddings and a Funeral", but hyped up on French cooking and Southern family. Thankfully, she didn't write her own BCC, or if she did, those-in-charge weren't so ridiculous as to restrict her to just one sentence.

I have to tell you that I really, really HEART this book, big red cut out hearts with white letters gloppy glued to the front, and a picture of a little flower taped right in the center. And it has NOTHING to do with the fact that Laura sent me the book because I won a contest over on her blog, and when it arrived a lone little truffle had escaped from the box and exploded all over the book, leaving me with chocolate flakes on my fingers. I promise, there are no pictures left of me actually licking the cover of this book, ok? But the chocolate? Yeah, NOTHING to do with what was inside the covers of the book. Because frankly, and you know this is true, no matter how much you chocolate-coat something, if at the center is something really yucky (like a snail or a grasshopper, or something REALLY yucky!) then all you've got is chocolate covered yuck. So, chocolate and joking aside, I want you to know that this book really is FAB-ulous.

I'm going to share a few of my favorite parts with you, and maybe that will explain what I mean. So just sit back and enjoy!

Maybe, when it comes to relationships, you've just got to risk it all with blind faith, even when it seems crazy and impossible and like you have too much to lose, including your familiar life. Everything, after all, is crazy and impossible, especially romance, which makes no logical sense whatsoever and seems to require an extraordinary belief in something intangible. It's just a thought. I have them occasionally.

Yeah, I know, right? That's what I mean. The book meanders along, like a nice stroll along the Seine, than BAM! You get hit upside the head with something that seems so basic, something that you've always felt but never actually tried to express. And you have to stop and put the book down, and walk away to fill your coffee cup, let the idea roll around in your head for a bit, then jump back in to find out what else Laura figured out for you. The book is fun that way. Here's another one, just to illustrate:

I realized that this sense of home was why I had been willing to make all those ...trips... I wondered how many things Sebastien didn't fully realize and couldn't articulate, how many unnamed layers of richness and belonging like this church were behind some of his needs for France.

That one stopped me cold. No, I am not married to a hunky Frenchman. I'm married to a hunky man from Ohio, thankyouverymuch. But for this girl, raised by a very Southern momma, with some very strong Southern women in my immediate five generations of family, Ohio might as well be the moon. We grew up miles apart, nearly speaking different languages, almost needing an interpreter. but it wasn't until reading this passage that I finally understood that his boyhood home meant as much to him as my Great-grandma's house meant to me. I get it, I really do.

Not that I agreed to four weedings, you understand. Frankly, I think Laura went above and beyond to accomodate all of those relatives, having TWO weddings in the States, then TWO weddings in France. And she desribes every one of the four in her book. In one scene, she having a literal meltdown while getting ready for her French wedding. Sebastien's mother, Claudine, tries to calm her:

Laura: It will never work. Our cultures are too different... it's an impossible thing to make work.
Claudine: It will work. We ate grits, didn't we? It will work fine.

At that point, I really wanted to steal Claudine! But I'm thinking Laura and Sebastien would notice that she disappeared. My kids might also wonder about a French lady tied up in a chair, being poked with the broom handle demanding she say really nice things to me. That's ok though, I can read all about her whenever I feel like I need somebody to remind me to take things one day at a time.

I'm not going to tell you anymore about the book today. I have an interview with Laura that will be posted this week. And we've got another thing on Friday. But for now, you can enter to win TRUFFLES. It's easy, really. I owe this idea to Amy, so thank Amy for suggesting it. Laura heard the idea and said "Yes, we MUST do that. That would make me feel so much better!" I wish I could find where Amy suggested it, but I'm too tired to dig that far. All you have to do is TELL US YOUR VERY OWN WEDDING HYSTERIA STORY. Yep, that's it. Tell us the story of your own meltdown. You can leave a comment on THIS post, or you can write about it on your own blog and leave us a link. Either way, you'll be entered to win. For those of you that haven't taken the plunge yet, you can share a story from a wedding that you've attended, friend or family, or ex-boyfriend, or crazy neighbor, or whoever. The story just has to contain a WEDDING and HYSTERIA. We're giving you guys a whole week to enter. All entries or links must be posted by Friday at 11:59pmEST. The winner not only gets a signed copy of Blame It on Paris, they will also get a box of truffles from Laura's very own kitchen. Bon Chance!

Also, get to a book store and pick up Blame It on Paris. Well, you can wait til the end of the week to see if you win a copy. But if you don't win, then go buy this book. It's hysterical. It's poignant. It's profound. And if you're very, very lucky, it's still covered in chocolate! (Ok, you'd have to actually have MY copy to have one covered in chocolate, and I'm not giving mine up. But all the other things I said about it are true. Really they are!)

Keep turning those pages!



amy said...

Ok, well of course I have to share my own wedding-related insanity, which I do over here. But just for the record, I do not want to be entered in the contest, because that's not fair. We need to share the truffle wealth.

Anonymous said...

I love the story, Amy! I think the car thing is symbolic--"Let's stop this! we're going too fast! I'm not ready! wait, I am, but...I'm not! Are you OUT of your mind, I told you to turn LEFT? How can I marry someone who can't take direction? Especially from ME."

Keep sharing, everyone. I'm feeling better already.

dee said...

Everyone else - if you haven't already, read Amy's story. It's totally perfect!!

I don't really have a wedding hysteria story. We'd been together a few years, owned a house, had a few kids already, but I never wanted to get married again. Ever. My first time was just THAT BAD. He asked me, and I said "yes", but still, it was maybe going to happen at some distant point in the future. Then I woke up one morning and realized I had no viable reason NOT to marry the man that I loved with all of my being, so I called him up at work. It went something like:
Me - What are you doing this afternoon?
Him - Uh, not too much. Why?
Me - Wanna go get married?
Him - I'll be home in 9 minutes.

he came home, we loaded the kids up and headed for the courthouse, and less than an hour later we were married.

The hysteria started the next morning, when I woke up and realized that I'd actually pledged the rest of my life to the man in my bed. I was freaked, totally panicked, and almost sick. HOW COULD I DO THAT? Didn't I remember how bad it was during my first marriage? Had I lost my mind the day before? WHY couldn't he have been really busy and said "Not today, maybe tomorrow" because I'm sure I could have regained my sanity by the next day.
Happily, I can assure you that the hysteria lasted only about 15 seconds, until he opened his eyes, smiled his smile, wrapped an arm around me and said "You're my wife. That's really cool".
Yeah. It was. And oh these many years later? It still is.

Anonymous said...

Awww...that is so sweet. What a wonderful guy.

I LIKE "Laura of the Truffles." I wonder if it's too late to adopt a nom de plume. When you hear that, does anybody else see me as kind of Emmanuelle Béart (in the style of Manon of the Springs) but surrounded by truffles instead of Provençal landscape? If so, you can go with that image. We look very similar, I promise.

dee said...

Ok, I just checked out imdb to see Emmanuelle...holy cow, she is HOT, and she could practically be your TWIN!! Don't believe me? Check this link:,%20Emmanuelle

amy said...

Laura, can you see now why I thought your wedding-day meltdown was so minor? Can you imagine what I might have done if I'd had a big ol' ceremony? Never mind four? Or a real honeymoon? I might have tried to get out of the airplane. You never know.

Dee, too sweet. :) My hysteria was never about the guy. The REST of it, though. Gee, if I knew then what I know now, I might have stayed the girlfriend forever...

andi said...

OK for truffles I will share an ugly wedding hysteria story... be prepared because this is a sort of queasy making story. My wonderful then fiance and I had been living together for about 2yrs, and were planning a big ole wedding paid for by my dad in July. The March before our upcoming wedding my beloved dad slips this into a family dinner with my siblings - Daisy and I are getting married in August. The conflagration of responses is as followed -
Me: what(on a whisper) then tears
Sister: WHAT!!??
Brother: You're getting married t'WHO?

Yes, dear dad's second divorce wasn't even final. We'd only met her once - in passing. Really. They'd only known each other since a Superbowl party in the middle of January. When my dad realized we weren't thrilled with his undying love for Daisy, and that I was crying, he pulled me outside for a "talk".

Dad: Can't we all be happy?(sort of a simpering voice)
Me: NO!!(NOT SIMPERING) I, I get to be happy. ME, this is MY summer. NOT YOURS. I've been planning my wedding for the last 6 monthes, then you waltz in here to say you want to get married, in August, right after my wedding? uh, NOPE, I got no happy for you. You will not turn my wedding into a bridal shower and reception for yourself and Daisy. This my only wedding, John is it, this is our day, our party, and I GET TO BE HAPPY!

15 yrs later we are both still married, and I do believe I am still the happy one! I told you this was an ugly story. It does not flatter me at all, and the yuckiest part is, it still makes my blood run hot to tell it. But y'all don't know me well enough to know I never spoke back to my dad. And my brother's response still cracks me up. And my sister was ready to go to the mat for me, knowing my inability to stick up for myself. The situation was funny in the dark twisted funny that is my favorite.

Anonymous said...

Andi, I think you are entitled to your wedding day! And having your dad decide to have his second marriage just after yours would be very upsetting.

Dee, you get extra points for pretending to everyone that I do, indeed, look like Emmanuelle Béart.

Keep them coming! As well as all these comments where people who've read the book explain how normal and MILD I was. Because I am going to collect all these and give them to Sébastien and say, "See!!!" And then I am going to translate them and give them to his family and say, "Vous voyez!!!" Because they still think I am much too temperamental.

GatorPerson said...

Let's see. The cake was late. My almost husband sang a nice few pieces of music before our good friend the flautist struck up Purcell's Trumpet Voluntary in D on the organ. I was afraid I'd cry, but dare not since my SINFUL BLACK stockings for going away were secreted in my almost husband's pocket alongside the tissue. I might pull out a stocking instead of a tissue. The really sad part was that it was the last time I was with my father alive; he died a month later. But everyone in my family was nice to each other for the very last time.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about your father, gatorperson. At least he got to see the wedding and everyone got together with him one last time. We had this loss just a few weeks ago, and we had celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary 2 weeks before, so we were glad we had all seen him so recently.

I LIKE the Sinful Black Stockings. Admit it would have been hilarious if you had pulled them out!

traveler said...

For ages I had a bad feeling about my son's wedding. My feelings are usually accurate but I could not voice them, since he would be totally offended. The bride's father was footing the bill (supposedly) and we kept quiet. Firstly we had to arrive way ahead of the day, which alerted me that something was awry. I spoke about this to my husband but he said there was no choice, so I agreed, albeit, worriedly. The accomodations were dreadful and the family never even met us nor were introduced. There was only a grandmother and her son,(the bride's father). Not to belabor the issue, I was 100% right about the entire wedding. It could have been the worst debacle on earth, if not for my husband and myself coming to the rescue. In other words, the father was the worst sort of liar and con man, totally without scruples and had no intention of paying a red cent for this extravagant wedding. We had to foot the entire bill and put on an act. We lived through this beautiful wedding (and it was lovely), took our leave and will never forget this memorable event in our lives. I regret having to put on a pretense the entire time, though and feel totally duped even though I felt sick inside. Maybe one day this creature will receive his comeuppance which is totally deserved. In the meantime it is a memory that cannot be forgotten. Unpleasant though it was, I felt badly for my son who never saw it coming. Sweet innocence and infatuation.

Anonymous said...

That is AWFUL, traveler! What an awful experience to go through.

Michelle said...

Ok, in honor of today, I've FINALLY gotten around to posting my tale on my blog:

Crawfish, a Festival, and a Pack of Yankees

It's a love story, really. hehe :)

Anonymous said...

Michelle, I love it! Of course, any time you combine crawfish and Yankees, you've got a story going right there.

pearl said...

Being young and innocent when I decided to marry I didn't realize what was involved. I wanted a small, luncheon wedding and a simple but beautiful reception. My mother-in-law did not offer to pay a dime of this entire affair. My parents took it upon themselves and my mother and I arranged everything. It turned out beautifully and I had no regrets. But I still felt sick at heart that my mother-in-law couldn't even feel that she should buy a new dress or bother with anything at all. It dampened my spirits a bit but it gave me insight in her mean spritedness.

sharon said...

Weddings are supposed to be enjoyable occasions, but for the most part they are nervewracking and unpleasant. Due to friction within the family or because of tension that can erupt at any time they are not relaxing except for the people invited. At least they enjoy the party and fun. I remember a cousin's wedding which was rather extravagant but in good taste and afterwards they gossiped about the gift that we gave. Unfortunately it was unacceptable. We never heard the end of that saga.

Anonymous said...

Sharon, you are so right, SO much pressure gets put on weddings. That's why almost everyone who's been through it already tries to convince brides-to-be to run off and get married. (Which, I just mention, I originally wanted to do--a tiny chapel in New Zealand, I said. Still fantasize about that chapel.)

I'm glad you had a beautiful wedding, Pearl. It's too bad about the MIL. But the beautiful wedding is what counts the most, right?

dee said...


I finally got to the blog and read about Wedding hysteria....

There was tons of planning and re planning between my mother and soon
to be mother-in-law. So when the actual day came everything should
have been smooth as chocolate pie. HA-HA!!

My mother wanted all the wedding party to stay in Murfreesboro so
nobody would have to drive 45 Min's. back to Nashville after the
rehearsal, and we all would make our hair appointments at 9 the next
morning. This plan would have worked out beautifully if all the brides
maids (6 total) had shown up or weren't fighting among themselves.
As far as the one who never showed up we just had my sister stand in
for her.(we didn't know my sister was going to in town for the big
day) But the two that were fighting was another problem in itself.
What made it worse was that they were fighting over one of the grooms
men. Needless to say we made it through the rehearsal with out any
hair pulling or knee kicking, I am not sure about name calling though.

Now on to the dinner. Which was breathtaking I might say.It was held
at Shane's mothers house on her wrap around porch. The four person
tables were set with white linen and fresh flowers all lite by
candlelight. We were all served by her friends, having a great time
till Shane's dad decided that he need to liven up the festivities.(I
though Shane's mom was going to strangle him, and probably would have
if they were still married) He started by asking Shane to stand so he
could make a toast. So far so good. Then after tipping his Big Bucket
(He didn't want to use the crystal) proceeded to pull Shane's chair
out from under him. Shane trying to catch himself from falling then
toppled the table witch sent everything flying. Good thing we were
holding our glasses from the toast!! Dinner and dessert had been
served, people started to leave and the boys couldn't get out the door
quick enough to start their own party, and the girls headed for the
Mom reserved a couple rooms so the fighting brides maids could stay
apart, but this was a little hard on me since I was the one running
back and forth. After a couple drinks (provided by my farther BLESS
HIS HEART!) things wound down and I did get some sleep.
The BIG day. 9 am We were on schedule, things were going great. Mon
made sure that I had taken Phinagren. I tend to throw-up when I get
nervous,excited, or sad and do not want to start throwing up going
down the isle.
10 am I am at the church getting dressed for the first round of
pictures. The girls are here and then the MIA brides maid sh owes up!
She start to get snippy with me since I was little harsh about her not
showing up for the rehearsal and her dress that was hand made was now
two sizes too small, and had riped up the inside seam. Then my mother
walks in and takes charge because Melissa is now yelling at me and I
start to cry. If there was ever a person you don't want to mess with
it is the mother of the bride. Especially my mom. The next time I saw
Melissa she had a whole new attitude. I am not sure what my mother
said, but since we were in Gods house I know it was in a low voice,
and so kind it killed! 11 am The tuxedos are now MIA! Shane's Dad had
them and he decided not to front the money to stay Murfreesboro, and
had a hour and a half drive back. 11:45 the tuxedos make it!
12 the music starts. The ceremony is beautiful. The reception grand. I
think back on it and wonder what happened about the fighting brides
maids and haven't a clue. Between the Phinagren and drinks (provided
by my farther BLESS HIS HEART!) I'm not sure if there was fighting. If
there was my mother took care of it.