Saturday, December 19, 2015

Parlez- vous français ?

Title:French Illusions : My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley
Author:  Linda Kovic-Skow    france booktours French-illusions
 “Je suis américaine . Je ne parle pas français”  Linda Kovic-Skow began her journey to France in the summer of 1979. Simply awesome. As Linda shares her enchanting  story as an au pair in a French household  and her wonderful adventure in Tours, I wish I could travel back in time as I have always harboured the dream of spending some months in France in order to be able to fully immerse myself  in the French language. While snapping a photo of a scene or a moment may be  an efficient way to help us recall the scene and remember the sequence of events, we still need to keep some kind of journal and jot down some notes about the experience including details of a particular place and a specific encounter. Ms Kovic-Skow definitely has kept the memory of her travelling experiences to France with such clarity and the places and sights in Tours as accurate as possible as she recounted the time she spent in France. Linda might have changed the names of everyone she met in France and  the name of the town she lived in as an au pair, nonetheless her dream like adventure has come across heart warming and truthful. It reminds me of the quote  by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry “Fais de ta vie un rêve, et d'un rêve, une réalité.” Make your life a dream and the dream a reality.

When Linda was twenty –one,  she worked  as a medical assistant for a busy family practice clinic in Seattle. When she grew increasingly disenchanted with her mundane work, she decided to pursue a career as a flight attendant. She imagined herself ‘ on sojourns in cities around the globe, meeting fascinating people and living life to its fullest’. There was one hitch  in her pursuit of her dream job. At the interview with World Airways, she was told that all flight attendants had to be bilingual. The interviewer suggested “Spanish, French , or German.”

French appealed to Linda  so  she decided that total immersion would be the best way to become fluent in the shortest amount of time. A coworker suggested that she could become an au pair for a family in France. She decided to take up the challenge as an au pair that usually entails childcare, twenty- five to thirty hours a week along with some light housework and cooking and in return she would have her own bedroom, a small allowance and one day off per week. Again there was another snag. The agencies required prospective au pairs to be conversant in French. Linda was determined so she filled out the applications as though she spoke basic French  when in reality, she did not.  She found a family in Songais within the Loire region of France. The family she was going to work for lived in Château  de  Montclair , a real – life castle  in Songais and the couple had two young children and the third one was on its way.   The Dubois family who engaged her was surprised to find that she spoke very little French. However they decided to let her stay as they were expecting their third child. She soon found that her inability to communicate in French did pose a barrier between her and the children who were under her charge.
 When Linda first met her employer, Madame Dubois , a tall, statuesque woman, she asked. “Parlez- vous anglais?”. That probably did not kick off on a good ground. When Madame Dubois knew that Linda could only manage a few French phrases, she was definitely not amused. Life as an au pair posed several challenges.  However during her stay in Tours,  she had made  new friends who were kind and helpful. When she was overwhelmed with frustrations, she had also experienced kindness, abundance of joy and happy encounters.

 Written in the first person voice, Ms Kovic- Skow’s memoir is a captivating read and I cannot wait to read her next book entitled “From Tours to Paris ( French Illusions Book 2)


  1. Our firm, Bostick Communications, distributes press releases via e-mail for our clients who are authors.  These releases make reviewers, such as yourself, aware of new books that are available for review.
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  2. Thanks for posting your review, glad you liked it. It would have been nice to include the picture you received of the book cover and a few links if your readers want to know more about the author, how to connect with her and buy her book. Emma at FBT.
    She has written the 2n volume telling about the 2nd part of her time in France:

  3. Your review tempts me to get the book