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Interview: Author Hilary Reyl, "Lessons in French"

  • Broadcast in Books
My Inner French Girl

My Inner French Girl


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"The best of America drifts to Paris...France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older -- intelligence and good manners." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

"French literature scholar Reyl's first novel is rich and magnetic, a snapshot of one young woman's life in a city at once ancient and bubbling over with life." - Booklist


It's 1989, the Berlin Wall is coming down, and Kate has just graduated from Yale, eager to pursue her dreams as a fledgling painter. When she receives a job offer to work as the assistant to Lydia Schell, a famous American photographer in Paris, she immediately accepts. It's a chance not only to be at the center of it all, but also to return to France for the first time since she was a lonely nine-year-old girl, sent to the outskirts of Paris to live with cousins while her father was dying. 

In compelling and sympathetic prose, Hilary Reyl perfectly captures this portrait of a precocious, ambitious young woman struggling to define herself in a vibrant world that spirals out of her control. Lessons in French is at once a love letter to Paris and the story of a young woman finding herself, her moral compass, and, finally, her true family. 


Hilary Reyl has a Ph.D. in French literature from NYU with a focus on the 19th century and has spent several years working and studying in France. She lives in New York City with her family. Lessons in French (Simon & Schuster, March 5, 2013) is her first novel.