I’m posting this review today as Linda Kovic-Skow’s book French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley (Book 1) is currently on promotion on Amazon Kindle and reduced to 77p for a limited time.
This memoir is set in the late 1970s in a chateau in the Loire where Linda, a young twenty-something, arrives from the US to perfect her French as an au pair for a year. It is her dream in life to work for an airline, but to do so she must have a foreign language and she will stop at nothing to fulfil her dream. Linda’s determination and strength of character are two of her traits that stood out for me during the book, especially as she put herself in a very awkward position. Her host family were expecting their third child imminently so hormones and emotions were running very high throughout the chateau when Linda arrives in their lives. They were also expecting her to be a competent French speaker, but she wasn’t and this made settling in even more difficult and not just for Linda. I can’t begin to imagine how different and difficult life in this chateau with two young children who don’t speak your language, a grumpy new mum and a tiny baby, must have been for Linda. This was years before the Internet, so contact with friends back home was limited to letters and an occasional phone call to her parents. I do know I’m not as brave as Linda and could not have done what she did, but she seems to have given the experience her best shot. Life wasn’t easy, but her language begins to improve, she meets some friendly faces and shares some lovely snippets of French family life and student life in and around Tours and the Loire. It was an interesting peek into a different life in a different era.
I know Linda is currently working on the second part of her time spent in France, but I would have liked this book to carry on a little longer. There is quite some excitement towards the end and then she just leaves us. This is great to ensure interest in the story for book two, but it felt a bit abrupt for me as I think her real adventure in France is just about to begin. I will be looking out for book two.
French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley (Book 1) is available in ebook and paperback format and links to Amazon can be found below.