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I was offered a copy of this book in audio format from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Linda Kovic has great expectations, she wants a more exciting life than the one she has, so she decides to apply for a job to become a flight attendant. There is just one problem: she needs to be fluent in a second language, which she is not. To remediate this she takes an au pair job in France... saying that she speaks the language. Her lie will not help her at her stay at the Dubois' and things turn out much more difficult than she expected.
I was very curious about this book since I also lived abroad for some years, in a country where I also did not speak the language(s). Apart from being a new experience and being completely alone, which makes things hard, the fact of not speaking the language can be disheartening sometimes, and some people are not as hospitable as one may think.
It is difficult to review this book without judging Linda. She was very young, and at that age everybody makes wrong decisions, expecting things to come out right. Life teaches you to think twice next time. Nevertheless she was also very unlucky with the family she met, having to act like a servant, more than an au pair. And off course she was in clear disadvantage, not speaking the language and feeling that they were doing her a favor for accepting her in that situation.
Now, talking about the book, the style was poor, with repeated expressions here and there. Very often we were given a sentence in French and then the translation to English. The French was very basic and I I think everyone with a basic level of French could understand it, so it felt a bit reiterative. I think the cleanest thing would have been just offering the sentences in English or mentioning that Linda did not understand something. I felt that the book was written like one would write a diary, without polishing the edges. It was entertaining enough and I wanted to see what happened in the end. We are left with a cliffhanger, which feels kind of cheating, but I understand that the second story will be a lot different, and this may justify separating them in two books.
Despite being this a real story, we know very little about Linda and the rest of the characters. They do not completely feel real and all the story feels flat and skimming the surface. They were real friends to her, but why? I expected more from it but it felt a bit superficial. The beginning is a series of anecdotes with the family, but there was a lack of continuity or purpose.
Something I missed were more temporal references. It is not clear to me how long Linda was expected to work at the Dubois' and how long she actually stayed. This made the book feel a bit disjointed.
Lucy Floyd did a wonderful job narrating this story. Her pronunciation in French was very good and the French accent when speaking English was very realistic. She portrayed well the main character and gave different touches to every character.
Despite the issues I explained, I enjoyed the story, and knowing that they were events happening to a real person makes you want to see how things turn out in the end.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Linda wants to be a flight attendant one problem, though, you need to be bi-lingual. What’s a girl, fluent only in English to do? Total immersion in French, her language of choice and what better way to do that then become an au pair for a French family… except Linda lies on her application stating that she’s well versed in French. Only the hubris of the young allows Linda to think she can persuade the family to take her in without some serious repercussions.
It’s very rare that someone can beat my stories of youthful guts (or naivety, take your choice). Linda Kovic-Skow does just that by flying halfway across the world to France, on a lie, and in a country where she doesn’t speak the language! Now that takes cojones!
French Illusions, is a wonderful and sometimes painful memoir about the trials and tribulations of life in a foreign land, but it’s also about the kindness strangers and willingness of others to help those in need.
Lucy Floyd is engaging as the narrator and does a wonderful job in this 9-hour audiobook. To be able to speak in both languages and have the average English listener follow along with no problem, is quite a feat.
I look forward to hearing the further adventures of this rogue adventurer.
This audiobook was gifted to me exchange for an unbiased review!
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Where does My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
I have listened to only two audio books, both of which are of excellent quality.
What did you like best about this story?
This story is told skilfully, honestly and without pretensions by the author, and is beautifully delivered by the reader.
Which character – as performed by Lucy Floyd – was your favourite?
I liked Lucy's portrayal of Linda, although her Madame Dubois was suitably stern and forbidding.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, I didn't feel compelled to spend one whole day doing nothing else but listening to Linda's book, although my answer should not be taken as a comment on the quality or delivery of the story.
Any additional comments?
It has been a pleasure listening to the style, so easy on the ears. I will listen to this again another time.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
The idea was to have something to listen to while I did decorating. In the end I just sat and soaked up the story. Terrific narrator, who had all the relevant accents nailed and also spoke French. She didn’t just read the book she dramatised the story which put the listener smack bang in the middle of it all.
Linda applied for the job as an Au Pair with a French family in the Loire Valley. Linda lied in her application. Applicants were required to be able to speak French. Linda didn’t.
She imagined, as a guileless twenty one year old, that all would be forgiven when she arrived from the USA at her new employers’ chateau. It wasn’t. The relationship between Linda and Madame Dubois never recovered from that first ‘tense’ encounter, probably not helped by the fact that Monsieur Dubois remained amenable throughout. I personally felt that the very pregnant Madame was feeling a little vulnerable. I started off having more sympathy with Madame Dubois than with Linda but as the story unfolded I could see how exposed young girls, who take up these types of jobs, can be. With little or no knowledge of the language, poorly paid with few rights and less means of being able to extricate yourself from the situation or return home, it was easy to see how these girls can become exploited. Linda was made of sterner stuff and when her love interest, Adam, comes onto the scene to complicate matters, events escalate. A highly recommended Audible story.