Sometimes I wake up feeling awful, like I haven't slept at all but someone has used me as a punchbag all night. I have always believed in Freddy Krueger and I am certain there is one with boxing gloves, rather than slashing hands, waiting for me to go to sleep and start dreaming. I managed to drag myself and Victoria to the vet for a check-up and then I figured out that nothing helps une petite malaise better than a new book, provided it is neither intellectually engaging, nor presenting new material. I chose La Vie Parisienne, a hybrid version of French Women Don't Get Fat and Two Lipsticks and A Lover.
All of these three books more or less speak of the same: attractive and pencil-thin French women who could teach the world, especially the Anglo-American one, a thing or two about style and diet. When French Women Don't Get Fat came out, it rapidly made it to many best-selling lists, despite revealing what is not really a secret to anyone who has lived in France for any amount of time: tiny portions and a modicum of physical activity are enough to look good when your contemporaries get too decrepit or too fat to attract even a passing scoff.
Two Lipsticks and A Lover is ideal for the frumpy friend who thinks cropped trousers (or indeed wrap dresses) suit everyone. I can only hope that those misguided British women that cannot stand Trinny and Susannah (big mistake, those two really know their stuff), will have a copy of Helena's glamour bible on their bedside tables. I find that it is especially vital that you read it if you have a daughter and are a little on the frumpy side. All hail the French! Considering they buy lipglosses, not Bratz dolls, to their seven year olds, it is no wonder that just about every French woman grows up knowing how to walk the right side of elegance. You see, often trendy is mistaken for elegance, yet they are two very different things. Take it from someone who has a deadly penchant for leopard print. At least I know it is vulgar. It just happens to be a vulgarity I find impossible to resist.
Quoi dire de La Vie Parisienne? I am not sure. I read a couple of chapters, ascertained that it is not an improvement, minute or otherwise, on any book about la vie francaise I have read so far and tossed it by the sofa. I am sure I will discover it again eventually, probably during the next sickly patch. There is nothing like brainless reading when une petite malaise strikes.