Pretending to Pray in French
By Elizabeth Podolinsky
After her latest lover dumps her, Elizabeth decides to change her life. She quits her bureaucratic job in Santa Barbara and flies to Paris on Valentine’s Day. After two months in Paris to find a French, rich, elegant and intelligent cross between Olivier Martinez and Jacques Derrida, she meets François, a widower who turns out to be anything but. When Paris doesn’t deliver the man or happiness, Elizabeth flees to a rural convent in Southern France, even though she hasn’t been to Mass in 20 years and carries the uncomfortable weight of a checkered Catholic upbringing. Instead of contemplating life in a romantic medieval convent, she finds herself cleaning toilets, taking orders from grouchy nuns and the object of anti-American sentiment. But she also meets a group of young foreign women there – fellow guest workers -- who help her realize that happiness isn’t dependent on external factors, such as a man, but comes from within. Pretending to Pray in French blends humor with a uniquely thoughtful perspective on French culture that takes the reader on a sometimes irreverent spiritual quest.