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Hilary Reyl biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author

Hilary Reyl
Photo: David Jacobs

Hilary Reyl

Hilary Reyl Biography

Hilary Reyl has a PhD in French literature from NYU with a focus on the nineteenth century and has spent several years working and studying in France. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

Hilary Reyl's website

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Interview

A Conversation with Hilary Reyl about her first novel Lessons in French, an evocative, coming-of-age story about a Yale graduate's year in Paris as an assistant to a legendary American photographer. Contains plot spoilers

Kate has had several different experiences with France and Paris in particular. You have also spent time in France and are familiar with French culture. How much did you draw on your own experiences for Kate's story? Did you conduct additional research?

I spent a year in Normandy with my family when I was eleven and twelve. My father was an academic, writing his dissertation, and could live anywhere for a short period, so my parents decided to take my sister and me to France. We started out in Paris, but it was too expensive and the school there put us in a class for foreigners. So we ended up in the servants' cottage of a small chateau outside a tiny village surrounded by cows and sheep. A lovely husband and wife teaching team took us under their wing and, in very little time, I was fluent and in love with France. Like my character, Kate, I was young enough to get the accent and old enough to intellectualize – and romanticize – the experience. 

I returned to France during summers to visit family friends in Paris and my teachers from Normandy, with whom I am still close. But I didn't live in France again until the fall of 1989, right after I graduated from college, when I spent a year in Paris working for a ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Hilary Reyl at BookBrowse
Lessons in French jacket
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