Last week I promised to tell you about the Christmas present I have given — and continue to give — to all of my non-French girlfriends. It’s the book, My Stylish French Girlfriends, imagined and written by my wonderful non-French girlfriend, Sharon Santoni.
(Oh yes, I also gave it to my sister-in-law as a thank-you/hostess gift — proof that Sharon’s utterly charming, beautiful and beautifully written coffee table book has no seasonal constraints. It has been my go-to gift for every occasion since it was published a few months ago.)
Scattered within the text here is a small sampling from the 20 women featured in Sharon’s book.
If you want to make everyone you know extremely happy, there is still time to order it and have it delivered in time for Noël, or maybe as inspiration for the new year.
It is truly an inspiring book. At the turn of every page there is a breathtakingly lovely photo featuring stunning women, as the title of the book implies, with intimate glimpses into their lives including their homes, their careers, their families and all the delicious details that make reading and looking at My Stylish French Girlfriends a delight from the beginning to the end. Sharon has shown us how her girlfriends entertain, dress, decorate, cook, garden, arrange bouquets, paint, ride their horses and play with their dogs, cats, and chickens(!).
Just looking at the photo vignettes offers scores of decorating and entertaining ideas — arranging collections, hanging pictures, setting a pretty table. . .
Really, it’s a coffee table book like no other because, like her blog which you all know so well, it is the way Sharon makes everything so aspirational and appealing, from her trips to the brocantes in the French countryside to her bouquets (and her frolics in the garden with her good dog, and her “bad” dog, Gibson and Ghetto respectively) that make everything she does feel special and charming.
I asked Sharon a couple of questions about how and why she decided to write her book and this is what she told me:
What made you decide to write the book?
“I had been writing about my girlfreinds on the blog for several years, but it was Madge Baird, editor at Gibbs Smith, who had the idea of putting them in to a book … and I’m very glad she did!”
What inspires you about Frenchwomen?
“Some of the women that I know here really do get their act together. A beautiful house, a creative job that allows them to balance their family life with their work, and of course they know how to dress well and make the most of their physique while always remaining chic and elegant. What I first noticed about the Fench women that I got to know, was that they are not trying to be French, or trying to fashionable, or trying to follow a trend. They simply follow their heart and stay true to themselves, and for many they end up being the trendsetters thanks to their infallible taste.
Creating this book was one of the most fun things I have ever done. It gave me a license to tour France and take photos inside some of the most beautiful and varied homes that I know. I was continually amazed by the way my friends opened up their homes and their lives to us, a truly privileged project that I was lucky to share with my friend, the photographer Franck Schmitt.”
This morning I sent a copy of Sharon’s book to my oldest (as in long-time. . .) childhood friend, one of those “impossible” people who has everything. It’s not always easy to find a gift custom made for recipients who don’t need anything and don’t know that they want this book.
Later this winter I’ll be visiting my best French girlfriend in Provence and even though she doesn’t speak English, I intend to give her My Stylish French Girlfriends because she is my most stylish French girlfriend and she will love it.
As a final bonus, in the last pages of the 224 page book, published by Gibbs Smith, Sharon offers us a list of special recommendations from her friends including everything from their shopping secrets to their favorite restaurants.