Jennie Goutet, of A Lady in France, has written a memoir. And I am celebrating as much as she is, because I remember when Jennie told me she would do just this, about two years ago. I have seen her her work with a focus I wish could be bottled. She came prepared to share her candid and heartbreaking story about triumph, challenge, faith, and joy, and it's all in her book.
Jennie has survived tragic loss, depression, and addiction. Her travels take us to places that aren't the pretty ones on the planet, but instead are the ones that when seen through the eyes of doing God's work, we are witness to beauty that is almost impossible to capture with words. And yet, Jennie Goutet does just that, "... tears were streaming down my face as she washed his body and wrapped it in a clean, white cloth to be buried, the nicest clothing he had ever worn. Then she handed him to me... I held him loosely in my arms, he was heavier in death than he had been in life."
As a world traveler, teaching, studying, and working, Jennie dreamed of marrying a French man. Through life's swift turns and surprises, she marries a man from Paris. It is through the twists and turns that Jennie so skillfully brings us along. We wake with her, and end our day with her. She takes us by the hand and in her vivid, simple language, we are with her through every step of discovery as well as humbling doubt.
With grace for herself, and fearlessness and faith in God's plan, she traces the painstaking process of rebuilding her life after her brother's suicide, from the dark moment of the news to the numb hours and months ahead. She recounts the bond with God that holds her up and brick by brick, she starts her life anew, in Him.
Her new life abroad is full of unexpected challenges, and Jennie offers an honest look at the loneliness she feels as an American in Paris. She endears herself to us and we root for her in her relentless determination to form friendships.
One of the book's most unexpected elements is the level of Jennie's honesty. It's hard to not feel blessed that she shares her story with us. Throughout Jennie's journey, through life's losses and its devastation and heartbreak, Jennie arrives at insights, soul stirring new understandings, and we are the ones right there, gripped by the shared discovery of self reflection, done with a searing openness.
For all its raw emotion and devastatingly honest confessions, this is more than a memoir about faith and God. Delivered in an intimate tone, where you feel you are the one who has found the last translucent person on earth, Jennie gifts us with a celebration of recognizing our riches, even the ones that come wrapped in the package of pain. Jennie Goutet gives us the treasure of both grief and hope.
Jennie shows us, we are stronger than we know. I didn't set out to finish Jennie's book in one sitting, but that's what happened. "Just one more chapter," never turned out to be enough, I had to know her whole story. I loved A Lady In France.
Purchase your copy of Jennie Goutet's A Lady In France on amazon.com ($5.99 for kindle)
Jennie writes on subjects ranging from grief, faith and depression to the lighter topics of French cooking and culture, her failure at gardening, and the humorous, exasperating joy that comes from being a mom.
She is author of the memoir "A Lady in France" and is a contributing author to "Sunshine After the Storm: A Survival Guide for the Grieving Mother." Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, Queen Latifah's website, and her writing was chosen as BlogHer's Voice of the Year two years running.
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