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Lessons in French
"An appealing debut novel...Paris entrances" - Editor's Choice, Oprah.com
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Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

Created: 10/17/14

Replies: 14

Posted Oct. 17, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1318

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Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

Would you agree that Lessons in French is very much about family? Does it frustrate you that Kate wants so badly to fit into the Schell family, or do you empathize with her emotionally despite her questionable choices? Why do you think she is so ambivalent about reconnecting with her "true" French family?


Posted Oct. 20, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 392

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RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

I agree that "family' is a very important to a lot of the characters in this book. Olivier is still wearing a ring with a family crest from a long gone old French estate. Kate has her own sadly reduced nuclear family as well as her extended French family. Bastien is devastated by the break up of his family. The Schell family who all seem to be at cross purposes most of the time but do really care for each other and know they need each other.

I admit to being frustrated with Kate's rather trying too hard to be part of the Schell family. But I can as well see that she is also just doing what they all expect of her and really wants to keep her job.

I can think of a couple of reasons for her ambivalence about connecting with her French family. Etienne had not treated her well and she had no idea how he would look at her now. Jacques and Solange were very good to her, but have left Paris and are leading a very different life and I think she was concerned that she might not find them the same and not know how to interact with them.


Posted Oct. 21, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tyrad

Join Date: 07/17/14

Posts: 9

RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

Kate is a keen observer of family but she doesn't quite understand what family is all about. She is not loyal enough to want to contact her Aunt and Uncle immediately upon arriving in France. I think she suffered from the distance that her parents put between her and themselves when they coped with the father's illness. It seems that they tried to protect her from their suffering and perhaps in a way retarded her growth towards being able to engage in a real relationship. She is such an observer and doesn't really know how to participate.


Posted Oct. 21, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susanr

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 114

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RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

I think that she Kate didn't immediately connect with her 'blood' family because she was more interested in creating a new family out of the Schell family. It was more than wanting to keep her job, i feel like she really wanted to be part of the family - at least in the beginning.


Posted Oct. 21, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurat

Join Date: 10/21/14

Posts: 3

RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

The years Kate spent in France while her father was dying in the US really affected her and how she views family. Although her Aunt and Uncle were very kind to her when she lived with them they seemed to have considered her the poor orphan. Etienne was mean to her growing up and she felt very isolated. Kate wanting to fit in to the Schell family makes sense.


Posted Oct. 21, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Suzanne

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 223

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RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

The role of family is one of the most prevalent issues of Lessons in French. Kate looks for a father figure and then a mother figure. She looks to Clarence and Lydia to fill those spaces. joyces description of families within the book is right on. I would add Christie and the boys as a family, as well, and one Kate can connect with.

Saying that, I can't understand nor fathom why Kate's mother and father could send their daughter away for two years even though her dad was ill. That is life and I think it was so unfortunate that Kate was deprived of her very own family for so long, adding to her disillusionment of the role of family.


Posted Oct. 22, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
joycew

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 75

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RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

I think the book gave a representation of many different families, which made the book very interesting. The word family has such diverse meanings when you stop to think about it. It is sad that a lot of people are always looking for family to complete themselves.


Posted Oct. 26, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
pennyp

Join Date: 03/22/12

Posts: 271

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RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

There were a number of different types of families in this book. While they all seemed to have their own ways of dealing with their relatives and situations that arise in any family, I guess the one common factor they had was they all tried to do the right thing. Kate's mom sent her away when her dad was dying because she must have felt it better for her, Clarence and Lydia did what they thought best for their kids, Oliver's family and Ettienes family as well. Families can be very dysfunctional and still mean to to the right thing. I think most people hope their families will be there to support them when all else fails.


Posted Oct. 27, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jillf

Join Date: 07/30/13

Posts: 19

RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

I too didn't understand why Kate's mother would have sent her away as her father was dying, that seemed selfish to me. The book also highlighted the dysfunction and lack of communication that is found in many families today. This, more than any other factor, seemed to cause Kate's lack of interest in her own family even as she was striving to be a part of Lydia and Clarence's family. Sometimes when we think we are doing what is best for our loved ones it is the exact opposite that we accomplish


Posted Oct. 27, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 294

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RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

Family is important to this novel, but sometimes it is the problems and dysfunctional aspects of family more than some secure or "perfect" family. That, however, is a good thing. Families can be so different, so I felt like it was realistic and believable to have different types of families.


Posted Oct. 27, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Hulananni

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 42

RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

I felt sorry for Dolange and Jacques. They loved Kate. Took her in when her father was ill. I think she should have made thevtome tomphone AND call them often. Seeing Etiennecis no excuse for not interacting with Solange and Etienne.


Posted Oct. 28, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
terriej

Join Date: 07/28/11

Posts: 135

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RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

Family is a key component of this novel, but it focused on the dysfunctional aspect of family.


Posted Nov. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
alice

Join Date: 03/06/12

Posts: 13

RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

I agree with the previous posts,
Family plays an important role within the dynamics of all the characters relationships but they are such a dysfunctional group. There is also the interaction between all the family members and each has a role in the family drama that is maintained throughout the book.


Posted Nov. 01, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
mariannes

Join Date: 12/17/12

Posts: 206

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RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

I think Kate was struck by the "star power" of the Schell family. She really admired Lydia's work, and was fascinated by the Schell's upper class lifestyle and all of the famous people they associated with. Kate was too young and inexperienced to have developed a real appreciation of her family. The fact that her parents sent her to live with her aunt and uncle probably made her feel more insecure at a vulnerable time in her life. It seemed like she didn't fully bond with either her mother or her aunt and uncle. Hopefully, that will change as she matures.


Posted Nov. 29, 2014 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
shirleyf

Join Date: 04/25/11

Posts: 31

RE: Discuss the roll of family in Lessons in French

The family provided the Lessons in French throughout the book. Sadly, all of the families were dysfunctional from Kate and her mother, the Schells, Olivier, Eteinne and his parents, and Kate and her aunt and uncle. In some ways, Clarence and Claudia also created a "family" with Kate. No one actually dealt with the dysfunctions, lack of communication and no one really interacted/spoke to other family members effectively, nor did they listen to their family members.


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