She isn’t really Melanie…. Olivia de Havilland’s Gem of a Memoir

This post is offered in memory of the people of Nice who were tragically killed yesterday and to all the French victims of terrorist attacks. So sad.


Thanks to one of my favorite blogs– The Simply Luxurious Life , for bringing this marvelous little book back to light.

If you’ve ever moved to a foreign country to live–not just to visit, you know how difficult even the simplest things can be. Whether it’s needing a different plug for an appliance or having to go to three agencies for one transaction, doing daily life in another country and another culture–possibly even another language, takes it out of you. Now imagine doing that in a new relationship, bringing along a small boy from your failed marriage? Oh, and keeping up with your Oscar-winning career? That’s all part of this marvelous story.

Had blogs existed back then this book would have been the posts at Olivia Takes On Paris. Each vignette in this novella-sized memoir is approximately blog post sized. It reads like a collection of newspaper columns. Lots of fun stuff here–nothing too raunchy, just things told in a way that would be appropriate at, say, bridge club.  Miss de Havilland, who turned 100 this week,  is a lady, but still gets the point across quite well.

As a typical American I found the Powder Room Parade and Where Do You Keep Your Bathtub to be the funniest. And I could well relate to the, ahem, French way of doing many Rx drugs–after all I’ve been to an Ngoni Traditional Healer (Witchdoctor in American terms).  All the little chapters are finely crafted treats just like an excellent pain au chocolat or macaron.

I’ve included both the book jacket photo and a photo of the actual cover boards because I liked them so much better than the jacket. A shame the endpapers weren’t, say, a cute map of Paris.  I suppose back in 1961/62 (when I was born), Miss De Havilland’s photo would have sold way more copies than a repeat of the tri-colored cover boards. Either way, the book is delightful. Every Frenchman Has One by Olivia De Hailland.



Gone With the Wind

Olivia De Havilland as Melanie Wilkes

2 thoughts on “She isn’t really Melanie…. Olivia de Havilland’s Gem of a Memoir

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