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Stars Upside Down - a memoir of travel, grief, and an incandescent God

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At seventeen, Jennie Goutet has a dream that she will one day marry a French man and sets off to Avignon in search of him. Though her dream eludes her, she lives boldly—teaching in Asia, studying in Paris, working and traveling for an advertising firm in New York. When God calls her, she answers reluctantly and must first come to grips with crippling loss, depression, and At seventeen, Jennie Goutet has a dream that she will one day marry a French man and sets off to Avignon in search of him. Though her dream eludes her, she lives boldly—teaching in Asia, studying in Paris, working and traveling for an advertising firm in New York. When God calls her, she answers reluctantly and must first come to grips with crippling loss, depression, and addiction before being restored. Providence takes her by the hand, and her dream comes true as she meets and marries her French husband, works with him in a humanitarian effort in East Africa, and settles down in France to build a family. Told with honesty and strength, Stars Upside Down is a brave, heart-stopping story of love, grief, faith, depression, sunshine piercing the gray clouds—and hope that stays in your heart long after it’s finished. * THIS BOOK WAS FORMERLY PUBLISHED AS 'A LADY IN FRANCE'


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At seventeen, Jennie Goutet has a dream that she will one day marry a French man and sets off to Avignon in search of him. Though her dream eludes her, she lives boldly—teaching in Asia, studying in Paris, working and traveling for an advertising firm in New York. When God calls her, she answers reluctantly and must first come to grips with crippling loss, depression, and At seventeen, Jennie Goutet has a dream that she will one day marry a French man and sets off to Avignon in search of him. Though her dream eludes her, she lives boldly—teaching in Asia, studying in Paris, working and traveling for an advertising firm in New York. When God calls her, she answers reluctantly and must first come to grips with crippling loss, depression, and addiction before being restored. Providence takes her by the hand, and her dream comes true as she meets and marries her French husband, works with him in a humanitarian effort in East Africa, and settles down in France to build a family. Told with honesty and strength, Stars Upside Down is a brave, heart-stopping story of love, grief, faith, depression, sunshine piercing the gray clouds—and hope that stays in your heart long after it’s finished. * THIS BOOK WAS FORMERLY PUBLISHED AS 'A LADY IN FRANCE'

30 review for Stars Upside Down - a memoir of travel, grief, and an incandescent God

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jennie Goutet

    The author's review doesn't count, but I was tired of staring at the green "to-read" button when I've already read it dozens of times. ;-)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alison Lee

    I finished A Lady in France in one sitting. Jennie's writing gripped me from the first page, and carried me along as the reader is brought along in her journey through France, Asia, Africa, New York, and back to France. Her story is at once devastating with losses so deep, and personal challenges so many - but at the same time, inspiring, as Jennie recounts how she is lifted and guided through it all through her halting discovery of her faith. Told with honesty and humor, I related absolutely to I finished A Lady in France in one sitting. Jennie's writing gripped me from the first page, and carried me along as the reader is brought along in her journey through France, Asia, Africa, New York, and back to France. Her story is at once devastating with losses so deep, and personal challenges so many - but at the same time, inspiring, as Jennie recounts how she is lifted and guided through it all through her halting discovery of her faith. Told with honesty and humor, I related absolutely to the young, unsure Jennie; the slightly cocky and know-it-all 20-something Jennie, and the wiser, more mature woman Jennie becomes, as her faith in God strengthens, and her foothold in motherhood, more sure as the years go by. Peppered with verses from the Bible, and Jennie's keen analysis of her faith and in God, this book does not alienate those who are not Christian. Jennie's faith guides her life, but it is her down-to-earth writing, beautiful insights into the various places she lived, worked in, and travelled to, and the many people she met and impacted her life, that truly guides her memoir. Do not miss this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Scott Spotson

    I love traveling; I've been to two of the countries that were important in this book: Taiwan and France. Thus, I was very intrigued by her adventures in all the countries she had visited. It's quite amazing how much of a varied life she's had, and she has had many blessings. I can see she is wise in her devotion to Christianity; she is not preachy, and she shows her open-mindedness to many cultures and faiths. She writes very well. Her descriptions are vivid; her emotions ring true. More than th I love traveling; I've been to two of the countries that were important in this book: Taiwan and France. Thus, I was very intrigued by her adventures in all the countries she had visited. It's quite amazing how much of a varied life she's had, and she has had many blessings. I can see she is wise in her devotion to Christianity; she is not preachy, and she shows her open-mindedness to many cultures and faiths. She writes very well. Her descriptions are vivid; her emotions ring true. More than that, she is kind. Everyone in the book appears well-rounded. Even her first long-term boyfriend, Olivier, comes off as a remarkable guy. I think it is more the range of topics covered that earn the three stars, in my opinion (and it is only my opinion). There's nothing the author has done wrong, she's written about her life in the best and most positive way possible. I think I'm looking for memoirs with more of a focus: i.e. Teacher Man, which focuses on the trials and tribulations of teaching high school in a tough city; and Angela's Ashes, which focuses on extreme child poverty, both written by Frank McCourt. The author has included everything of note in her busy, fulfilled life, and that's not a bad thing. I did find the first half of the book very interesting, but the second half, with its emphasis on home renovations and putting up with ailments and complications of giving birth and tending to children, a teensy bit "about the author" and not so much "for the reader." It is hard to write a memoir without having the reader feel a tad jealous, or a little unsympathetic. I guess that's why Frank McCourt has done so well; no one would want to assume his lives in Teacher Man or Angela's Ashes. And this author has had such a rich and varied life which is definitely worth writing about, but perhaps focusing on a dominant theme - like international living among cultures, or her wonderful devotion to her faith, would allow the reader to identify with her life, rather than comparing himself or herself to the author. Celebrities can get away with it, because well.. because they're celebrities. Unfair, true, but they have different standards applied. (I did enjoy Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda, and Always Looking Up by Michael J. Fox). I recommend this book!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie Harwood

    Confession: I don't read many books in the Religion category, but do read a lot in the Spirituality corner of Amazon. Jennie Goutet's memoir is about her travels and relationship to God and while I am not of the same faith as she is, I really loved her story. This is a book that both believers and non-believers (or believers in 'something else') will enjoy because it's so engrossing and personable. Her style is completely non-judgmental. She never forces her opinion of the world on her reader an Confession: I don't read many books in the Religion category, but do read a lot in the Spirituality corner of Amazon. Jennie Goutet's memoir is about her travels and relationship to God and while I am not of the same faith as she is, I really loved her story. This is a book that both believers and non-believers (or believers in 'something else') will enjoy because it's so engrossing and personable. Her style is completely non-judgmental. She never forces her opinion of the world on her reader and for that I totally loved her book. I read her original publication of this memoir, "A Lady in France" (named after her blog of that name, which is widely followed and adored!) and now have read her abridged memoir - it's the same story but more focused on its themes and her writing is a pure joy to read! She's an author who deeply cares about so many things in life that it's impossible not to care right along with her. In this memoir you get a travel story, a coming-to-faith story, a motherhood story, a love story all interwoven in beautiful passages that seem to flow straight from Jennie Goutet's heart. Highly recommended to anyone who loves authentic, real voices writing about life, love, loss, and everything in between.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emanuel Grigoras

    Following your dream... More than anything this book was for me a view into the inner works of following your dream. Jennie Goutet took me through a life of experiences told in an honest manner by a woman that took her time in observing the beauty of the world around her while fighting her inner demons. At some passages I got carried away by the story and went into the same state of mind as the author. I never get depressed for more than a few hours in real life (some kind of self preservation ins Following your dream... More than anything this book was for me a view into the inner works of following your dream. Jennie Goutet took me through a life of experiences told in an honest manner by a woman that took her time in observing the beauty of the world around her while fighting her inner demons. At some passages I got carried away by the story and went into the same state of mind as the author. I never get depressed for more than a few hours in real life (some kind of self preservation instinct) but I felt what depressed means through the author’s voice. The flow of the story was interrupted for me by the quotes from the Christian Bible not as much for the quotes as for the fact that instead of being at the beginning of new chapter on the first page, they were singled out on a separate page and somehow out of context. Nothing the touch screen on my Kindle can’t fix. The relationship between a person and his/her faith is something difficult to put in words, but Jennie manages to share it with the reader in a beautiful way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Katie Sluiter

    A Lady in France is a book that I just could not put down. Jennie tells her story starting with studying abroad in France and comes full circle at the end to living as an ex-pat in France with her husband and three children. Her experiences in between are nothing short of amazing. Besides France, she spends time living in NYC, Asia, and Africa. She suffers from being hit by a car, having depression, battling addiction, and falling in love with Christ. While Jennie weaves her experiences becoming A Lady in France is a book that I just could not put down. Jennie tells her story starting with studying abroad in France and comes full circle at the end to living as an ex-pat in France with her husband and three children. Her experiences in between are nothing short of amazing. Besides France, she spends time living in NYC, Asia, and Africa. She suffers from being hit by a car, having depression, battling addiction, and falling in love with Christ. While Jennie weaves her experiences becoming and growing as a Christian into her story, it is not off-putting to someone of a different faith. In fact, I think it enhances the story to see how she leaned on her faith in certain times. Jennie Goutet is extremely human and passionate and personable. When I finished the book, I wanted to jump on a plane and find myself at her table with a cup of tea to here what has happened since the book's ending. She is THAT good at telling stories.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Annie

    I enjoyed reading this book. The book can be basically split into 3 topics - travel, religion/spirituality and family. If I am honest, I found travel the most interesting part. I could build up a very vivid picture when reading about life in Asia and Africa. Needless to say, reading about how Goutet 'found God' and became a Christian is interesting. Towards the end of the book there is the 23rd Psalm - I personally still prefer the wording of the original version. There are some quite sad events I enjoyed reading this book. The book can be basically split into 3 topics - travel, religion/spirituality and family. If I am honest, I found travel the most interesting part. I could build up a very vivid picture when reading about life in Asia and Africa. Needless to say, reading about how Goutet 'found God' and became a Christian is interesting. Towards the end of the book there is the 23rd Psalm - I personally still prefer the wording of the original version. There are some quite sad events in her life. Battling anxiety and depression, are just some of the uphill struggles in her life that she has to contend with. All in all a good read and a very honest account of her life.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    Jennie Goutet’s memoir, A Lady in France , takes readers on a journey around the world as she satisfies her insatiable appetite for glamour, sophistication, adventure, and foreign lands. With rich details, Goutet recounts her life from childhood to middle-aged, revealing her dreams, triumphs, failures, and struggles she undergoes along the way. The anxiety and insecurities that grip her during childhood remains her companion as an adult but they don’t prevent her from going to France to fulfill h Jennie Goutet’s memoir, A Lady in France , takes readers on a journey around the world as she satisfies her insatiable appetite for glamour, sophistication, adventure, and foreign lands. With rich details, Goutet recounts her life from childhood to middle-aged, revealing her dreams, triumphs, failures, and struggles she undergoes along the way. The anxiety and insecurities that grip her during childhood remains her companion as an adult but they don’t prevent her from going to France to fulfill her dream of marrying a French man. She realizes that dream but not in the manner or timing, she expects. Before marriage, Goutet graduates from college and begins the adventure. First, she journeys to Taiwan to serve as a teacher and adapts to the new surroundings and culture, and, with a little work, picks up the language of the people. She spends time studying in France and even works as a nanny for a while there before returning to the states. Her time in New York spans numerous jobs from low paying restaurant work to traveling for an advertising firm in the city. Even after achieving some of her goals: living in a glamorous city, with a job she considered equally exciting, and a French boyfriend, she continued to be dogged by overwhelming anxiety, depression, insecurities, and other emotions she didn’t understand. Meanwhile, she repels the invitations from God to come to Him, when he reaches out to her through strangers in various parts of the world. With her resistance to Christianity weakened, and with the help of patient, kind people, Goutet tentatively enters Christian life. She learns to let go of her will and allow herself to be led by God. As her faith grows, she achieves many of her dreams; however, she also faces many challenges along the way, including her ongoing battle with anxiety and depression. Seekers, believers, adventure lovers, and those battling depression will find Jennie Goutet’s A Lady in France a well-written, uplifting read. inspiredbooksguide.com A Lady in France by Jennie Goutet My rating: 4 of 5 stars Jennie Goutet’s memoir, A Lady in France , takes readers on a journey around the world as she satisfies her insatiable appetite for glamour, sophistication, adventure, and foreign lands. With rich details, Goutet recounts her life from childhood to middle-aged, revealing her dreams, triumphs, failures, and struggles she undergoes along the way. The anxiety and insecurities that grip her during childhood remains her companion as an adult but they don’t prevent her from going to France to fulfill her dream of marrying a French man. She realizes that dream but not in the manner or timing, she expects. Before marriage, Goutet graduates from college and begins the adventure. First, she journeys to Taiwan to serve as a teacher and adapts to the new surroundings and culture, and, with a little work, picks up the language of the people. She spends time studying in France and even works as a nanny for a while there before returning to the states. Her time in New York spans numerous jobs from low paying restaurant work to traveling for an advertising firm in the city. Even after achieving some of her goals: living in a glamorous city, with a job she considered equally exciting, and a French boyfriend, she continued to be dogged by overwhelming anxiety, depression, insecurities, and other emotions she didn’t understand. Meanwhile, she repels the invitations from God to come to Him, when he reaches out to her through strangers in various parts of the world. With her resistance to Christianity weakened, and with the help of patient, kind people, Goutet tentatively enters Christian life. She learns to let go of her will and allow herself to be led by God. As her faith grows, she achieves many of her dreams; however, she also faces many challenges along the way, including her ongoing battle with anxiety and depression. Seekers, believers, adventure lovers, and those battling depression will find Jennie Goutet’s A Lady in France a well-written, uplifting read. inspiredbooksguide.com View all my reviews

  9. 4 out of 5

    Donna Engler

    Excellent I normally read fiction, but this far surpassed any fiction I have recently read. Such honesty! It is delightful to hear a person be so forthright about her faith...or sometimes lack of faith. How we can all relate! You have a new fan. Please keep writing. I'll get on your list to find out when new books are ready.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sheri

    Loved this book! I thoroughly love this book! Thank you for writing it JennIe! I hope to read more of your work in the future!

  11. 4 out of 5

    K.A. Krisko

    This autobiographical book of travel and religious reaffirmation is very well written, and the author is obviously accomplished and practiced. You won’t be distracted by grammatical or other mistakes. It’s professionally done and well-edited. I found the travel sections by far the most interesting. The narrator ends up in France, Taiwan, and in various parts of Africa, and her struggles learning to deal with the cultures and languages, sometimes on her own and usually quite successfully, are fas This autobiographical book of travel and religious reaffirmation is very well written, and the author is obviously accomplished and practiced. You won’t be distracted by grammatical or other mistakes. It’s professionally done and well-edited. I found the travel sections by far the most interesting. The narrator ends up in France, Taiwan, and in various parts of Africa, and her struggles learning to deal with the cultures and languages, sometimes on her own and usually quite successfully, are fascinating. The details of the landscape and housing are well done and paint a vivid picture. She seems to be able to grasp the opportunities that come her way and move bravely beyond what is familiar to her to experience the world as a whole. But despite these fascinating opportunities, the narrator often seems dissatisfied and even ungrateful. I found myself puzzled by this, and never came to a satisfactory conclusion as to why this might be so. Although the narrator seemed to attribute it to her need for religion, when she became more involved in religion it didn’t seem to help the issue. So perhaps it was due to depression; it’s unclear. She seems to attribute the smallest coincidences to the hand of god, and I also found it less than obvious why she should do so. I struggled with the sections covering the mundane: descriptions of bible study, of apartment-hunting, house-hunting, job-hunting, what it’s like to be pregnant, daily life. These sections might be more interesting to others, but I personally often lost track of the journey in these places. It seemed I was simply reading a chronological recitation, perhaps lifted from a diary or journal, with some embellishments. I was also bothered in several sections when we suddenly, after spending the vast majority of the book seeing through the first-person narrator’s eyes, see small sections through the eyes of Matthieu. How does she know what he is seeing or feeling at that time? Perhaps she asked him later, but there’s no clue that this is what he’s told her; we simply suddenly experience an entirely different viewpoint, in third-person. I would have been happy reading just the travel sections, with the other sections trimmed considerably. I realize that everyone’s life is not chock-full of excitement at every twist and turn and it’s hard to separate what’s important in one’s life from what is common experience, and also that part of the author’s purpose was to relate her personal religious journey. Four stars for the excellent writing and the fascinating travel sections.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Gayle Pace

    REVIEW Ms. Goutet's writing grabs you the moment you open the book. A magnificent journey to France, Asia, Africa, New York and then back to France. The story immediately starts with devastation. Deep losses in t he heart and so many challenges, but those challenges are also an inspiration. Mr. Goutet tells how her discovery of faith led her through everything and gave her a new strong faith. The author adds some humor. The reader can be a part of the young, unconfident Jennie. Off course, she is REVIEW Ms. Goutet's writing grabs you the moment you open the book. A magnificent journey to France, Asia, Africa, New York and then back to France. The story immediately starts with devastation. Deep losses in t he heart and so many challenges, but those challenges are also an inspiration. Mr. Goutet tells how her discovery of faith led her through everything and gave her a new strong faith. The author adds some humor. The reader can be a part of the young, unconfident Jennie. Off course, she is a twenty year old know it all and she is quite cocky.. You can also relate to the mature woman that Jennie becomes. Her faith in God gives her strength. She becomes more sure of herself as she becomes a mother. The story has verses from the Bible and shows Jennie's faith in God. the book doesn't offend those who are not Christians. Her faith in God leads her through her life but it's her writing that brought out the beautiful places that she lived, worked and travelled to. She met many people in her travels that made quite a difference in Jennie's life. God and her faith truly guides her writing. The book shows how faith can help bring you through many difficult times. The author wrote this book not only for Christians but for those who have no faith too. It's a book you can read without feeling you are being preached to. That can turn a lot of people off. The verses from the Bible can be very inspiring to all who read the book. You don't have to believe in a certain "God". There are many people who believe but believe in a different way, to a different entity. That doesn't make them wrong and it doesn't make those who believe in God wrong. I believe it's just having faith in our hearts and believing. In her travels you will journey through many countries and learn about a lot of different people. I was given a complimentary a complimentary copy of A LADY IN FRANCE from the author, Jennie Goutet and BookCrash for my view of the book, No other compensation took place.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Meg Bortin

    Don't be deceived by the title of Jennie Goutet's memoir, 'A Lady in France.' To paraphrase an old quote, this ain't no lady, this is a powerful woman. Her story recounts, often in painfully intimate detail, the spiritual journey of a person unafraid to question her past in hopes of finding the inner harmony she needs to go forward into the future. In Jennie's case, this involves casting aside old uncertainties and accepting, in their stead, faith. Her faith is Christian, and her book is punctua Don't be deceived by the title of Jennie Goutet's memoir, 'A Lady in France.' To paraphrase an old quote, this ain't no lady, this is a powerful woman. Her story recounts, often in painfully intimate detail, the spiritual journey of a person unafraid to question her past in hopes of finding the inner harmony she needs to go forward into the future. In Jennie's case, this involves casting aside old uncertainties and accepting, in their stead, faith. Her faith is Christian, and her book is punctuated by relevant passages from the Bible. Whether or not you share that faith is unimportant in my view. What I found particularly touching in this courageous book was the author's willingness, even as she embraces the demands of her church, to question its rules. Although she often portrays herself as weak, in fact her life belies this. As a young woman, she leaves America to go teach in Taiwan, where she knows absolutely no one. As she puts it, 'I wanted to plunge into the very thing that terrified me so I could conquer the fear.' Later, while working for the church, she spends a harrowing year in East Africa. This physical journey around the world forms a counterpoint to the many ups and downs of her spiritual progress as she searches for love -- and ultimately finds it, with a handsome Frenchman. Jennie tells us right at the outset that she will one day settle in France. It was 'destined,' she says. Sorry, Jennie, but I don't agree. You carved out your destiny for yourself, one difficult chapter at a time. As your book so eloquently shows, you found the strength to have faith -- not just in God, but in yourself. That's very powerful. Thanks for writing about it.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Julie C. Gardner

    Jennie Goutet has lived on several continents, speaks multiple languages, and maintains a group of friends whose diversity rivals the United Nations. She once dreamed she’d marry a French man, then watched her dream unfold into reality. But that’s only a part of her fascinating story. There is a rawness and truth about Jennie Goutet. She’s unassuming and gentle. Funny. Real. Her words are straightforward – not at all flowery or sentimental – yet the sentences she strings together are so lovely, y Jennie Goutet has lived on several continents, speaks multiple languages, and maintains a group of friends whose diversity rivals the United Nations. She once dreamed she’d marry a French man, then watched her dream unfold into reality. But that’s only a part of her fascinating story. There is a rawness and truth about Jennie Goutet. She’s unassuming and gentle. Funny. Real. Her words are straightforward – not at all flowery or sentimental – yet the sentences she strings together are so lovely, you feel as if you’re eating the food she has cooked or smelling the plants in her garden; listening to the laughter of her children; holding her hand. Her hand is warm and welcoming, just like you knew it would be. I traveled with her on every page of Stars Upside Down. She took me to Taiwan and the Philippines; Somaliland and Djibouti. To New York and then to Paris. My heart broke for her in times of loss and soared with her in times of joy. Although she writes about motherhood and marriage, addiction and anxiety, Jennie’s story is – at its core – a journey of her faith. In the three-part memoir, she details her calls to Christianity (the times she did not answer God and, ultimately, the time she did). With unflinching honesty, she recalls days of doubt and dark struggles alongside moments of hope and strength. Jennie sugarcoats nothing about her life, examining both the blessings and the hardships (physical, psychological, spiritual); and although her experiences are one-of-a-kind, the universality of her search for belonging and goodness speaks to me: friendship stretching across the miles; love triumphing over time.

  15. 5 out of 5

    booksandcarbs

    Years ago when I was a regularly-posting mommy blogger, I had a handful or so of other writer-moms who I considered friends even though we (with one exception) had never met in person. Jennie was one of those friends. I loved her blog for its glimpses into her life as an American married to a Frenchman and living and raising a family in France -- her garden, her recipes, her thoughtful reflections on cultural differences. What distinguishes her blog and now her memoir, A Lady in France, is her c Years ago when I was a regularly-posting mommy blogger, I had a handful or so of other writer-moms who I considered friends even though we (with one exception) had never met in person. Jennie was one of those friends. I loved her blog for its glimpses into her life as an American married to a Frenchman and living and raising a family in France -- her garden, her recipes, her thoughtful reflections on cultural differences. What distinguishes her blog and now her memoir, A Lady in France, is her consistent honesty and thoughtfulness, especially as she writes about her depression and her faith journey. I am more in tune with my own spiritual path now than I was a few years ago when I was regularly immersed in the blogosphere. Thus, the passages of scripture that frame this memoir really spoke to me and as Catholic (shamefully lacking in my own knowledge of scripture), I marveled at the resonance between the passages and the moments in her life. Jennie's had a full and interesting life -- more than enough material for a compelling memoir -- but what made this memoir extraordinary to me was her writing about faith. She is honest about moments when she ignored or doubted and inspiring in the moments when she had the courage to grow in and live her relationship with God. That being said, I don't think you need to be interested in spiritual questions to enjoy, relate to, or be inspired by A Lady in France. One final comment: I read MANY memoirs, and I appreciate that Jennie's memoir never reads as if she is trying to justify past wrongs, rationalize, or rewrite history.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    Jennie lives in France with her French husband and three children, but this is so much more than a new life in France book. Jennie has led an amazing life. She was raised in the US in a multi-cultural family, has taught English in Asia, studied French in Paris, lived a corporate New York life and spent a year working in East Africa for her church before settling in France and raising her family. She is open and honest about the good and the bad times; including family loss and depression and talk Jennie lives in France with her French husband and three children, but this is so much more than a new life in France book. Jennie has led an amazing life. She was raised in the US in a multi-cultural family, has taught English in Asia, studied French in Paris, lived a corporate New York life and spent a year working in East Africa for her church before settling in France and raising her family. She is open and honest about the good and the bad times; including family loss and depression and talks about her religion, as it is a part of her, but without preaching. I will admit to being reluctant to start reading this memoir because of the religious content, but I was wrong. In talking openly about it she adds an extra dimension to her life and the memoir, but there is never any talk of her way being the only way. Jennie has achieved so much in her life, had so many (good and bad) experiences and has helped people all over the world, but is sadly plagued by self-doubt and anxiety. Through this book she has shown me that it is possible for people with different cultures and religions to live in harmony and even enhance each other’s lives and that there is more to religion than war or conflict. I hope one day she is able to appreciate her achievements. I finished the book in tears and my only regret is that this book lingered on my kindle for far too long before I got around to reading it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Angela Amman

    Jennie Goutet had a dream of a French husband, but her journey from a girl in New York to a lady in France is one with turns and detours and soul-searching heartaches that challenge her again and again. One of the most compelling sections of A Lady in France tells of Goutet's mission work in Africa. She fights for more sanitary conditions and tells of both the political red tape that can cripple humanitarian efforts and the tireless work of the people who truly believe their efforts are making a Jennie Goutet had a dream of a French husband, but her journey from a girl in New York to a lady in France is one with turns and detours and soul-searching heartaches that challenge her again and again. One of the most compelling sections of A Lady in France tells of Goutet's mission work in Africa. She fights for more sanitary conditions and tells of both the political red tape that can cripple humanitarian efforts and the tireless work of the people who truly believe their efforts are making a difference in the lives they’re touching. Goutet describes Africa’s stark, dusty beauty in a way that takes you into the oppressive heat, and her simple words about the good she did while she was there show the strength and kindness she brings to those around her. A Lady in France isn’t merely about a woman who finds her physical home in a land far from where she begins geographically, but about one who makes peace with herself in a way that ensures she could be home no matter where she settled her family. Goutet’s story is about opening your heart and finding that home is a state of love, peace, and appreciation for the life with which you surround yourself. Read an expanded version of my review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Belinda White

    This is a difficult book for me to review. The author is most definitely an accomplished wordsmith, and she has provided us a very polished work. While you won't find action and adventure here, you will get a quiet and relaxing read. It is kind of like reading over a journal writer's shoulder. The biggest problem I had with this book--and hence my review dilemma--is that it is truly two books in one. The first book is the story of the author's travels. That, I truly enjoyed. I also felt that ther This is a difficult book for me to review. The author is most definitely an accomplished wordsmith, and she has provided us a very polished work. While you won't find action and adventure here, you will get a quiet and relaxing read. It is kind of like reading over a journal writer's shoulder. The biggest problem I had with this book--and hence my review dilemma--is that it is truly two books in one. The first book is the story of the author's travels. That, I truly enjoyed. I also felt that there was a lot that could have been expanded upon (traveling with children later in life, etc). That book could well stand on its own and possibly find a good readership. There are a lot of people out there (myself included) that love to read of places we will most likely never see. The other "book" though, is a different story. It tells the story of the author's journey to religion and is almost fanatical at times. The author speaks of her church and some of their practices...and truthfully, some of these sections made me very uncomfortable. I won't get into a theological debate here, but suffice it to say that my Christian ideas didn't always line up with those of the author. I wish I could rate these two stories separately, but unfortunately at present the are both between the same book covers.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jacqueline

    Jennie has led an amazing life. She was raised in the US in a multi-cultural family, has taught English in Asia, studied French in Paris, lived a corporate New York life and spent a year working in East Africa for her church before settling in France and raising her family. She is open and honest about the good and the bad times; including family loss and depression and talks about her religion, as it is a part of her, but without preaching. I will admit to being reluctant to start reading this Jennie has led an amazing life. She was raised in the US in a multi-cultural family, has taught English in Asia, studied French in Paris, lived a corporate New York life and spent a year working in East Africa for her church before settling in France and raising her family. She is open and honest about the good and the bad times; including family loss and depression and talks about her religion, as it is a part of her, but without preaching. I will admit to being reluctant to start reading this memoir because of the religious content, but I was wrong. In talking openly about it she adds an extra dimension to her life and the memoir, but there is never any talk of her way being the only way. Jennie has achieved so much in her life, had so many (good and bad) experiences and has helped people all over the world, but is sadly plagued by self-doubt and anxiety. Through this book she has shown me that it is possible for people with different cultures and religions to live in harmony and even enhance each other’s lives and that there is more to religion than war or conflict. I hope one day she is able to appreciate her achievements. I finished the book in tears and my only regret is that this book lingered on my kindle for far too long before I got around to reading it.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Stars Upside Down seduced me from the very first page with its exquisite writing and I was drawn in and hooked. This book has also stayed with me long after finishing the final page. For me, it is a story about navigating life and the strategies we find to do that, searching for happiness. For this author, her faith is a major part of that journey but for me, this isn’t a ‘Christian book’ in that she is not espousing Christianity as the answer for all. We all want to be the best that we can be – Stars Upside Down seduced me from the very first page with its exquisite writing and I was drawn in and hooked. This book has also stayed with me long after finishing the final page. For me, it is a story about navigating life and the strategies we find to do that, searching for happiness. For this author, her faith is a major part of that journey but for me, this isn’t a ‘Christian book’ in that she is not espousing Christianity as the answer for all. We all want to be the best that we can be – and this book is resonates with me because it's about trying to find what works for you, the struggle to do what you feel is right and how often we resist doing what we know would make us feel good. Who hasn’t looked for signs from ‘the universe’ ? I loved how she describes being hit by a massive hailstone and takes it as a sign that God is literally giving her a whack to say ‘get real’. This is an emotional (yes I shed a tear) story, about trying to make sense when bad things happen, the commitment it takes to follow your beliefs even when others around you don’t share the same, and the importance of looking after others and being generous. In a culture in which so many people are ‘searching for happiness’, I would highly recommend this jewel of a mémoir.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anna Whiston-Donaldson

    I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book because I was familiar with several parts of the author's story and wanted to know more. Jennie's memoir is rich in detail and I found myself learning about several different cultures as I read about Jennie's life. Her life experiences are so different than my own have been, and I felt welcomed into her world of a young New York career woman, a missionary, and an Ex-pat navigating life in the outskirts of Paris. I enjoyed how Jennie weaves her Christi I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book because I was familiar with several parts of the author's story and wanted to know more. Jennie's memoir is rich in detail and I found myself learning about several different cultures as I read about Jennie's life. Her life experiences are so different than my own have been, and I felt welcomed into her world of a young New York career woman, a missionary, and an Ex-pat navigating life in the outskirts of Paris. I enjoyed how Jennie weaves her Christian faith throughout her book. It is done in a way that will not be off-putting to those of other faith backgrounds. One aspect of her story that I especially appreciated was the way Jennie took an authentic look at herself and her motivations throughout. It's easy for writers to avoid this self reflection and give a less complete picture of themselves. Jennie also shows that life does not somehow become simple or problem-free as soon as you make a commitment to follow God. In fact, I think Jennie's story is a realistic look at how life can become even more challenging as we try to grow spiritually because we then must examine ourselves more closely than ever before. I really enjoyed "A Lady in France."

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alison Lee

    I finished A Lady in France in one sitting. Jennie's writing gripped me from the first page, and carried me along as the reader is brought along in her journey through France, Asia, Africa, New York, and back to France. Her story is at once devastating with losses so deep, and personal challenges so many - but at the same time, inspiring, as Jennie recounts how she is lifted and guided through it all through her halting discovery of her faith. Told with honesty and humor, I related absolutely to I finished A Lady in France in one sitting. Jennie's writing gripped me from the first page, and carried me along as the reader is brought along in her journey through France, Asia, Africa, New York, and back to France. Her story is at once devastating with losses so deep, and personal challenges so many - but at the same time, inspiring, as Jennie recounts how she is lifted and guided through it all through her halting discovery of her faith. Told with honesty and humor, I related absolutely to the young, unsure Jennie; the slightly cocky and know-it-all 20-something Jennie, and the wiser, more mature woman Jennie becomes, as her faith in God strengthens, and her foothold in motherhood, more sure as the years go by. Peppered with verses from the Bible, and Jennie's keen analysis of her faith and in God, this book does not alienate those who are not Christian. Jennie's faith guides her life, but it is her down-to-earth writing, beautiful insights into the various places she lived, worked in, and travelled to, and the many people she met and impacted her life, that truly guides her memoir. Do not miss this book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anna Whiston-Donaldson

    I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book because I was familiar with several parts of the author's story and wanted to know more. Jennie's memoir is rich in detail and I found myself learning about several different cultures as I read about Jennie's life. Her life experiences are so different than my own have been, and I felt welcomed into her world of a young New York career woman, a missionary, and an Ex-pat navigating life in the outskirts of Paris. I enjoyed how Jennie weaves her Christi I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book because I was familiar with several parts of the author's story and wanted to know more. Jennie's memoir is rich in detail and I found myself learning about several different cultures as I read about Jennie's life. Her life experiences are so different than my own have been, and I felt welcomed into her world of a young New York career woman, a missionary, and an Ex-pat navigating life in the outskirts of Paris. I enjoyed how Jennie weaves her Christian faith throughout her book. It is done in a way that will not be off-putting to those of other faith backgrounds. One aspect of her story that I especially appreciated was the way Jennie took an authentic look at herself and her motivations throughout. It's easy for writers to avoid this self reflection and give a less complete picture of themselves. Jennie also shows that life does not somehow become simple or problem-free as soon as you make a commitment to follow God. In fact, I think Jennie's story is a realistic look at how life can become even more challenging as we try to grow spiritually because we then must examine ourselves more closely than ever before.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    A Lady in France is one of those books where the scenes stay with you long after you've finished it. I read Jennie's memoir last year on her blog, where she published it a chapter at a time, and when I got her book, I looked forward to reading her descriptions of the scenes again, much like I love watching my favorite movies over and over. Jennie's life unfolds as an American visiting France in college, and she takes us with her as she moves from France to Asia to the US to Africa and finally ba A Lady in France is one of those books where the scenes stay with you long after you've finished it. I read Jennie's memoir last year on her blog, where she published it a chapter at a time, and when I got her book, I looked forward to reading her descriptions of the scenes again, much like I love watching my favorite movies over and over. Jennie's life unfolds as an American visiting France in college, and she takes us with her as she moves from France to Asia to the US to Africa and finally back to France, where she currently resides with her family. Her life story is remarkable, filled with joy and tragedy and rich experiences that I have only dreamed about. She writes in a clear voice that is almost lyrical, and weaves her spiritual journey through her storytelling that grips you and inspires you to see life through no matter what obstacle threatens to trip you up. I didn't want this book to end.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Stoeckel

    This memoir is at times devastating in it's despair and rollicking in its humor. It is the story of a woman from Syracuse NY, the same place I'm writing this from, who has spent a great deal of her life in places I could only dream of and eventually settles in France with her husband and three children, in what might be seen as a " happily ever after" love story. However, to read and see what this family, what this woman went through as her faith was tried and tested over the years: a broken fami This memoir is at times devastating in it's despair and rollicking in its humor. It is the story of a woman from Syracuse NY, the same place I'm writing this from, who has spent a great deal of her life in places I could only dream of and eventually settles in France with her husband and three children, in what might be seen as a " happily ever after" love story. However, to read and see what this family, what this woman went through as her faith was tried and tested over the years: a broken family, a suicide, depression, faith, the loss of faith, fertility and post partum depression, miscarriage, job loss and church politics, is a story begging to be read. As I came to the end of this amazing and personal work, I am blessed and heartened by her walk in faith. I urge anyone who struggles with faith, with failure, with joy and sorrow to read and learn. And if I ever meet Jennie Goutet in person, I'd hope we would enjoy coffee in a small café somewhere.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Denise Hisey

    Jennie's storytelling captured my attention from the beginning. She doesn't use euphemisms when writing about her indiscretions, she just tells it like it is. I admire that. The vision she had of herself marrying a French man and then living in France affected much of her childhood and young adulthood. She wove this theme effortlessly throughout the book without making it become tiresome. Her adventurous spirit and many travels matched the longing I had at that age, and I lived vicariously through Jennie's storytelling captured my attention from the beginning. She doesn't use euphemisms when writing about her indiscretions, she just tells it like it is. I admire that. The vision she had of herself marrying a French man and then living in France affected much of her childhood and young adulthood. She wove this theme effortlessly throughout the book without making it become tiresome. Her adventurous spirit and many travels matched the longing I had at that age, and I lived vicariously through hers. Jennie describes her struggles and self-discoveries with honesty, warmth, and a bit of heartache. There was much I could relate to, though our lives were, and are, very different from each other. Though the publisher provided me with a complimentary copy of the book from Book Crash (www.bookcrash.com)in return for an honest review, my review was not influenced due to the gift.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    Jennie had me at "A Lady in France," the name of her blog where I first read her memoir one chapter at a time. Her story takes the reader through her life from familiar America to far-flung Asia and Africa and finally settling in France, in a way that fills you with awe and wonder about her strength of spirit and that so many rich experiences can happen to one person in a lifetime. She writes with great care and thoughtfulness and describes each event so clearly you feel as if you are watching t Jennie had me at "A Lady in France," the name of her blog where I first read her memoir one chapter at a time. Her story takes the reader through her life from familiar America to far-flung Asia and Africa and finally settling in France, in a way that fills you with awe and wonder about her strength of spirit and that so many rich experiences can happen to one person in a lifetime. She writes with great care and thoughtfulness and describes each event so clearly you feel as if you are watching the scene unfold before you. A memoir where the author can share the meaning in life's events both tragic and joyful while staying relatable even in such exotic circumstances is one that inspires me to find meaning wherever life leads. A Lady in France is inspiring, gut-wrenching, warm, and exciting, and I was sorry to come to the end.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    *I received this book as part of Goodreads First Reads Giveaways* This book is based on the author's blog, and gives a frank account of her life from late teens to present day. As someone who has always felt an affinity with France, I was curious to find out how this played out in Jennie Goutet's life. I have quite a strict star system for my Goodreads books and so when I say "3 stars - liked it" that is literally what it means. I don't normally read memoirs but this was an interesting read. It's *I received this book as part of Goodreads First Reads Giveaways* This book is based on the author's blog, and gives a frank account of her life from late teens to present day. As someone who has always felt an affinity with France, I was curious to find out how this played out in Jennie Goutet's life. I have quite a strict star system for my Goodreads books and so when I say "3 stars - liked it" that is literally what it means. I don't normally read memoirs but this was an interesting read. It's amazing how many details of her life the author remembered! The tales of God's providence and goodness were also very encouraging and uplifting. However, I couldn't get past the feeling that I was reading a blog rather than a book, and it was a bit off-putting, preventing me from raising the star-count.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Josiah

    Plot: B Writing: B Vocabulary: B Level: Easy Rating: PG Worldview: Does God really get involved in my life? How can I reach my full potential? What does it mean to be a Christian in community? Wow, I loved this book! The author writes in an entertaining yet very genuine way, discussing many topics relevant to all women, especially those who are Christians and/or living in a foreign culture. I have to admit that I had a top-notch review ready to type out, then life got in the way and I forgot about it Plot: B Writing: B Vocabulary: B Level: Easy Rating: PG Worldview: Does God really get involved in my life? How can I reach my full potential? What does it mean to be a Christian in community? Wow, I loved this book! The author writes in an entertaining yet very genuine way, discussing many topics relevant to all women, especially those who are Christians and/or living in a foreign culture. I have to admit that I had a top-notch review ready to type out, then life got in the way and I forgot about it for two months. I'll have to reread the book in order to write more specifically. But I did make a notation to put it on my 5-star list! This copy received for free courtesy of GoodReads FirstReads program, which in no way influenced this review.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Anamitra Roy

    A Well-Written Memoir! Someone is sharing her life. I shall not be judgmental here, I think. I must say, it's not my kind of a book at all. I like off-the-track things and this book is far away from what gets me intrigued. But I realize, it's not the author's fault that this book fell into my hands. That's why I should not sabotage the ratings at all. I give it 4 stars for the quality of writing and editing. There are many people out there who'll simply love this book, I know it for fact. I think A Well-Written Memoir! Someone is sharing her life. I shall not be judgmental here, I think. I must say, it's not my kind of a book at all. I like off-the-track things and this book is far away from what gets me intrigued. But I realize, it's not the author's fault that this book fell into my hands. That's why I should not sabotage the ratings at all. I give it 4 stars for the quality of writing and editing. There are many people out there who'll simply love this book, I know it for fact. I think majority of the readers out there are going to like it since it's vast and versatile. But unfortunately I'm not one of them. But I must repeat, I appreciate the writing skill of the author. Very well-written indeed! Best wishes.

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