The French Do It Better

Maman-knows-best books are back in fashion

French Ways and Their Meaning (1919)

By Edith Wharton

Thesis statement: “French habits and manners have their roots in a civilization so profoundly unlike ours — so much older, richer, more elaborate and firmly crystallized — that French customs necessarily differ from ours more than do those of more primitive races.”

French Women Don’t Get Fat (2004)

By Mireille Guiliano

Thesis statement: “Women should not lose sight of the singular achievements of French civilization. Until now, I humbly submit, one glorious triumph has remained largely unacknowledged, yet it’s a basic and familiar anthropological truth. French women don’t get fat.”

La Seduction (2011)

By Elaine Sciolino

Thesis statement: “[The French] give themselves permission to fulfill a need for pleasure and leisure that America’s hard-working, supercapitalist, abstinent culture often does not allow. Sexuality always lies at the bottom of the toolbox, in everyday life, in business, even in politics.”

Bringing Up Bébé (2012)

By Pamela Druckerman

Thesis statement: “French parents are very concerned about their kids ... They take reasonable precautions. But they aren’t panicked about their children’s well-being. This calmer outlook makes them better at both establishing boundaries and giving their kids some autonomy.”

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