This year, I signed up to read 12 books set in France at the Books on France challenge held by Emma at Words and Peace. The first book I've finished for this challenge is French Illusions, which is a memoir, by Linda Kovic-Skow.
This was an enjoyable book that takes the reader to 1979 France and let's us see a French family through her eyes.
Kovic-Skow ended up going to France as an au pair because she wanted to learn French so she could become a flight attendant. But in order to get the job as an au pair, she had to pretend to speak French. It sounds like a vicious circle. So 22-year-old Kovic-Skow faked her French test and was hired by a well-off French family. That did not get her au pair experience off to a great start. The French family considered sending her home but in the end let her stay. She grew close with two of the children she cared for but did not get along with the mother of the family.
She also got to attend some classes in Tours and meet other young people around the world.
The story definitely engaged me as I hurried to find out how her au pair experience turned out.
Here's an excerpt from her dinner with the family's in-laws: Soon Maurice brought in the next course, two large salads, one with crunchy lettuce and duck giblets and another featuring lettuce with truffles and walnut oil. An extravagant cheese board and French bread followed. Throughout most of the meal, I felt ignored until Monsieur Dubois turned to me and asked a surprising question. "What do you think of Monsieur Carter? Many of us in France are amazed you elected him president." "I really don't follow politics. I'm sorry. I wish I had more to say." My cheeks warmed, and I felt embarrassed by my response. At that time in my young life, I knew very little about affairs of state. Monsieur Dubois shrugged and turned to his father-in-law, muttering a few words before they exploded in laughter.
I remember those feelings of embarrassment and inadequacy as I sat through many dinners with a French family when I was an au pair.
In spite of some of the author's difficulties, I'll admit to being jealous of some of Kovic-Skow's opportunities. I didn't get any days off when I was an au pair. But she was required to do things I hadn't dreamed of, like make homemade yogurt.
At the end of the book, I would have liked some more details about how her time in France turned out. But maybe that will be another book.
The book is available on Kindle at Amazon for only 99 cents.
I'm a writer living in Columbus, Ohio, and wishing I was in France. My novel, The Summer of France, is available in Kindle on Amazon or in paperback at Amazon or lulu.com
The Summer of France or Here in Paperback