It is well known in certain circles that I am a huge fan of Gone with the Wind. I used to watch it every year when TBS ran it up against the Super Bowl. On the spectrum of Melanie to Scarlett, I fall decidedly somewhere in the middle, with maybe a strong lean towards Team Scarlett (she and I have the same ability to be determined and headstrong). I’ve always admired Melanie’s peaceful, but solid, persona. She was a steel magnolia before it was a thing. There are days when my mantra is “Be more like Melly.”
Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. C’est la vie. Such is life, n’est pas?
Melanie, of course, was played by the brilliant Olivia de Havilland. Penguin Random House recently released her 1962 work, Every Frenchman has One. In the early 1950’s, long after Gone with the Wind had come and gone, de Havilland meet and married a French gentleman in the real world and moved to Paris with her son. Every Frenchman has One is a brief memoir/satire of her experience at becoming an expat.
And let me tell you, it would make Miss Melly blush. The writing is sharp and witty, and I found myself laughing out loud several times while reading. In her best self-deprecating manner, de Havilland pokes as much fun at herself as she does at the French and their foreign customs.
Olivia de Havilland is still living in Paris and she just celebrated her 100th birthday on July 1st of this year. This book may be half a century old, but you still identify with the stranger in the strange land. After Gone with the Wind, de Havilland went on to win two Academy Awards for To Each His Own and The Heiress. Along with other awards over her career, she also earned the French Legion of Honor in 2010.
I wish that I could go back in time and hang out with the 1960s Olivia de Havilland in Paris. She sounds like she was fun at parties. Until Dr. Who starts renting out his Tardis, I guess I’ll just have to settle for reading Every Frenchman has One instead.
PS The thing every Frenchman has is a liver. Get your mind out of the gutter. Miss Melly would be ashamed of you.