The simple past, or passé simple, is a verb tense in French used mainly for literature or extremely formal speech. When I was learning the basics of French in high school, my professeur told us that we didn't really need to learn it because it wasn't used in everyday speech. Little did she know that I would go on to live in France and want to maybe, sorta, kinda read a book in French someday.
Marianne knows I've tried, but I just cannot get through an entire book in French because of the stupid, stupid, stupid passé simple. It sounds NOTHING like the French I know and I just can't get into a story when I'm constantly trying to remember that this or that verb is actually an action in the past.
My Very Parisian Friend has given me books to try - itty bitty books by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, that should be easy to get through, but nope. nada. can't do it. Passé simple.
I'd like to improve my French, especially with all of the English that is spoken in the Cannes Cannes household upon Copain's request, but this whole not being able to read a full novel in French situation has really put on damper on my goals.
However, ever since last week, I think there's as glimmer of hope for me....
I was killing time on Grands Boulevards, poking around the Virgin Mega Store waiting for friends to show up to a theatre performance, (yes, I saw How to Become Parisian in One Hour for the fifth time), when I happened upon a familiar author...
I felt a wave of happy wash over me and all of my childhood reading came flooding back - Matilda, The Witches, Boy, Esio Trot, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, The BFG...and of course, James and the Giant Peach. And here is was, in French - James et la grosse pêche.
I had to have the book! What better way to get over my issue with passé simple, than to read one of my childhood favorites? I knew the story, so I would only need to focus on the language. For the first time in a long time, I was excited to go to bed and cuddle up with a book.
So far I'm on page 36 - a vast improvement compared to my other failed attempts to read a book in French. I love Roald Dahl! And while the passé simple is still not making this book challenge easy for me, reliving a moment of my own past makes it much more simple :-)