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Women's Fiction
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Independent Press Award

2024 Distinguished Favorite

The French Lover's Wife

Janet Garber

When Lucie, a smart and sassy girl from NYC, meets Pierre, a dashing Frenchman, at a grad school party in 1973, she abandons her PhD program to run off with him. It’s the start of the sexual revolution, and she doesn’t intend to miss a thing. They first land in Mexico, then marry and settle in Paris to live the dream. But not long into their marriage, Pierre becomes an intolerant critic of her wifely imperfections; Lucie just can’t seem to measure up to French standards.

Instead of settling into her new life, she balks at French customs. As planned, she has their baby son in 1976, but far from succeeding in settling her down, the baby highlights her inability to depend on Pierre and precipitates a meltdown. Finally, she makes two friends, young mothers she’s met at the playground. When one of them tries to commit suicide, Lucie panics and considers returning to the U.S. but fears the impact on her young son. An English-speaking women’s writing group sets her on the right path. Ultimately, those women help her realize what she truly needs and wants out of life: to be a mother, a career woman, and a writer.

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