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French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley

(French Illusions #1)

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3.71  ·  Rating details ·  607 ratings  ·  109 reviews
"This is a wonderful debut memoir, made much more appealing because it is true. A well written, fast-paced book enhanced by sprinkles of French..."

A futile lie.
She doesn’t speak French.
She knew she would be caught.

It’s 1979 and twenty-one-year-old Linda needs to learn a language fast in order to fulfill her lofty dreams. Broke yet determined, she pushes aside feelings of
...more
Paperback, 245 pages
Published January 1st 2012 by Dreamland Press, LLC
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Linda Kovic-Skow Hi Cinda. I just now discovered your question here at Goodreads. If you still have a chance to leave a review, here is the trick. On the book page,…moreHi Cinda. I just now discovered your question here at Goodreads. If you still have a chance to leave a review, here is the trick. On the book page, you click on the star ratings to the left. A box will appear that thanks you and asks if you would like to write a review. If you blinked, you might miss this step :)(less)

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3.71  · 
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Aditi
Jul 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All France lovers
"Memoir isn’t the summary of a life; it’s a window into a life, very much like a photograph in its selective composition. It may look like a casual and even random calling up of bygone events. It’s not; it’s a deliberate construction."
-----William Zinsser, an American writer, editor, literary critic, and teacher

Well to be honest, I thought that memoirs would bore me to death, so I never read one in my life. This is the first time, I read this incredible memoir of Linda Kovic-Skow called Frenc
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Liza Perrat
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley is the first of two memoirs based on the diary entries of the author, Linda Kovic-Skow. Back in 1979, when she was 21, Linda yearned to become a flight attendant. But this required speaking a second language, so she chose to learn French by becoming an au pair to a wealthy French family living in a château in the beautiful Loire Valley. Thrown in at the deep end, without knowing any French, Linda struggled to adapt to her new ...more
Becky Corwin-Adams
I really enjoyed this well written memoir. I have always wondered what it would be like to be an au pair, or a "nanny", as Americans say. After reading this novel, I can tell you it is not at all a "Mary Poppins" experience.

While I do feel that the author should not have lied about speaking French to get the job, all of us have been young and dumb at one time. Her boss, Madame Dubois, was just a mean spirited woman who has probably never cut anyone slack, even once, in her lifetime. Compassion,
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Onaiza Khan
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I have no words to describe how much I loved this book.
Claire T
Great book! I initially read this because I had to read a nonfiction book for school, but it ended up being no chore. The plot isn't action pact or complex but it keeps you turning pages to see how her life ends up. I didn't like how it didn't tie up all the ends. The story ended with a lot of loose ends that should have been resolved. I understand that there is a second book that could fix it all up and that this is nonfiction, so she could not have made up events to close off the book, but I s ...more
Susan Navas
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story of a naive young American lying her way into a job as as au pair for a wealthy French family in the Loire Valley, this memoir by Linda Kovic-Skow has been well written. Madame Dubois comes across as a complex character. Heavily pregnant when Linda arrives, at first I thought that her behaviour towards Linda was a mixture of annoyance at her lie combined with a heavy dose of jealousy of this young, attractive woman. After all, pregnancy and the first few months after a baby is born are ti ...more
Lucinda Clarke
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I LEFT THE DISHES
I know I’m really enjoying a book when I sit and ignore the dirty dishes to finish reading. It took me a few pages to get into the book, but once in, I was hooked. A great read, very descriptive and it flowed beautifully. I could identify with the author, feel her pain and frustration and the descriptions of the French family, buildings and customs were described so well I felt I was there with her in the Loire Valley. The only thing I found a little annoying is the repetition f
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Lua
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love memoirs, and I love France, so this was a fun book for me. I was once an au pair in France, too, and reading about the author's troubles with her French family made me feel very grateful in retrospect to have had much kinder and less demanding employers. I enjoyed hearing about the author's daily interactions with the mother, father, and children at home in the family's chateau, as well as her excursions out to a nearby college to find French classes and friends. I'll be looking forward t ...more
Denise
May 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm admittedly a Francophile, but this is a wonderful memoir -- well told with believable characters and adventures.
Kathleen Pooler
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Linda Kovic-Skow’s debut memoir, French Illusions is a captivating, well-crafted, believable story of a twenty-one year-old young woman who, despite not being able to speak French, takes off to become an au pair for a wealthy French family in the Loire Valley of France. I was riveted to this story and once I started reading it, I could not put it down.
The author takes us through the painstaking process of facing the haughty, overbearing Madame Dubois, the matriarch of the family, immediately set
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Jacqueline
Dec 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
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 wer ...more
Patricia Sands
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: novels set in France immediately get my attention! Linda Kovic-Skow takes us into the most personal details of her experience as a young au pair. She pulls no punches from the beginning, admitting she accepted the position in spite of the fact she had lied about one of the most important details of her employment. I had to admire her audacity! The story is fast-paced, well-written and delivers an excellent look into the domestic life of this privileged family, as well as many of ...more
Cheryl Malandrinos
Eloquently told, this heartwarming memoir is simply riveting. As Kovic learns to navigate a new culture and cope with a difficult employer, she opens her heart to romance and adventure. Filled with rich descriptions, the beauty of France comes alive. Kovic's time abroad is made easier by the handful of friends she finds along the way, but a difficult relationship with the mistress of the house and her daughter creates a great deal of tension and homesickness. The reader is eager to follow the jo ...more
Sharon
Nov 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There was a lot to like about this book. The author's dialogue between the characters was natural and organic. Her contentious situation with Madame Dubois was recounted as if it had just happened. (At times, I felt like an unwitting intruder who walked into a tense and uncomfortable situation.) I particularly liked a tender reminiscence cooking with her mom when she was a little girl. And the climax of the book was explosively palpable. I also loved the peppered French language throughout the b ...more
Anne Chapman
Nov 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book very much reminded me of my youth and some of the things I got up to.
What more can i say except I enjoyed it very much, and cant wait to read the follow up to this adventure.
Beth Haslam
Mar 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a die-hard Francophile I was immediately drawn to the title and lovely cover of this book. It didn’t disappoint.

The author describes her brave ambitions to learn French by travelling from her home in the States and immersing herself in a culture that proves to be more than problematical. Taking a job as an Au Pair girl, Linda is economical with the truth about her ability to speak the language. What follows is the captivating story of her bittersweet experiences with the family who employ he
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Talia Colley
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tower-teams-vi
This was an interesting look at an American’s experience as an au pair for a demanding woman in the French countryside. Wow, just wow.
Kim Ess
May 27, 2018 rated it liked it
What an interesting adventure this brave author had at the age of 21 as an Au Pair. Now I can't wait to read her follow up story, French Illusions, just so I can find out what happened to her during her time in France. :D
Ionia
May 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book all the way until the end. I have recently discovered that the author is intending to release another book, and from what I understand it will continue where this one left off. I am thankful for this, as the way this book ended was definitely a negative for me. I wanted to know more! What happened to the author, did she learn what she came to learn? Did she get the job she was hoping for? So many questions.

From the beginning of Linda's book, it is easy to love her. She is open
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Chocolate & Croissants
Linda lead the life I would have wanted to live in my teen years (minus the au pair taking care of children). I always wanted to be a flight attendant and live abroad. I was too short on the flight attendant part and I was never going to babysit anyone's children on a full time basis.

It all started when author Linda wanted to work for the airlines. Finding out that she needed to speak another language she decided that she would be an au pair in France and learn the language so that she could fl
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Kelly Hand
Feb 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was interested in this memoir because 10 years after Linda Kovic-Skow worked as an au pair in the Loire Valley, I also worked as a "jeune fille au pair" in the region. It has occurred to me to write an account of my experience--different from hers, yet similar--but I always struggled with the issue of how to recapture the past, treat the actual people involved with confidentiality, etc. (This is why writing fiction is in many ways so much easier--and why my novel Au Pair Report draws to some e ...more
Cecile Sune
Aug 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was 14 years old, my parents sent me to Ireland for 3 weeks so that I could practice the English language I was learning in school. This was a full immersion trip which meant I would stay with an Irish family for the whole duration of my stay with no contact with other French speaking students. The family who hosted me lived in the suburbs of Dublin, and they had a girl my age who had decided before I even arrived that she didn’t like me. She went out with her friends, and left me at home ...more
Julie Haigh
A refreshing and different memoir-I enjoyed it all over again in audiobook format.

I've read quite a few memoirs of people retiring and moving to Spain, Italy and Greece but this is something different. Linda tells of when she was twenty-one and working as a medical assistant for a family practice clinic in Seattle. Her real ambition was to be a flight attendant with an International Airline. The only stumbling block was that she needed to be able to speak another language. This is Linda's story
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Lisa Kearns
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was given a copy of French Illusions free in return for writing a review.

Linda Kovik-Skow wrote her book based on the diary she kept as a young woman working in France as an au pair. I thought the story sounded very interesting - an intimate look inside the home of a wealthy family living in a small French village. I was a little taken aback by the lie Linda told about speaking French in order to get the job, but I admired her courage and determination to salvage the situation. Learning a fore
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Julie Haigh
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone, lovers of travel memoirs
Recommended to Julie by: saw Linda's name on an authors/readers/reviewers website and found she had written this book.
A refreshing and different memoir.

I've read quite a few memoirs of people retiring and moving to Spain, Italy and Greece but this is something different. Linda tells of when she was twenty-one and working as a medical assistant for a family practice clinic in Seattle. Her real ambition was to be a flight attendant with an International Airline. The only stumbling block was that she needed to be able to speak another language. This is Linda's story of how she went to France to work as an Au Pair
...more
Andrea Lewis
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the moment I opened French Illusions I was hooked! Linda Kovic-Skow is a young woman who desperately wants to change careers. After some research, Linda decides to pursue a career as a flight attendant.

Though she is invited for an interview, Linda is not offered the position on the basis that she does not speak a second language. Linda's disappointment leads her to devise a very deceptive plan. One that finds her hired as an au pair and moving to France to live in a castle.

It seemed like it
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Kathleen Kelly
Mar 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished
French Illusions is an interesting true story of Linda Kovic-Skow and her dreams of becoming an international stewardess. In order to do this she is told she needs to be bilingual. She decides to become an au pair in France so she can learn the language, the only problem is that she took the job knowing that she could not speak the language. She figured she could learn as she went along. Once she had the position she did come clean with Madame Dubois, who was not too happy but decided to keep Li ...more
Jill Dobbe
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Linda Kovic’s story of her time spent as an au pair in France is not an easy one, especially because her knowledge of French is very limited. As is sometimes the case, Kovic finds that she has very little free time and her French employer demands her to complete more and more tasks that were not part of her job description. Feeling isolated, homesick, and misunderstood, the author tries to make the best of her situation while doing everything she can to learn to speak French.

This book truly carr
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Lizzie Harwood
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Interesting read and fantastic details about life in 1979 in an aristocratic family's château told by their adventurous American au pair... Linda Kovic-Skow recreates the delicious meals and domestic drudgery with great aplomb.

This was a time when au pairs couldn't find new friends on facebook groups and have an instant life - we can feel Linda's isolation and the icy chill of her unheated garret room as well as Madame's relentless grudge against her. It's just as well that she didn't take up w
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Pat Ellis
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this Memoir - easy to read and follow and I believe the Author 'shone' through in her writing. I've never read anything about being an au pair before and so I wasn't sure what to expect. As a young woman the Author left her home in America for the Loire Valley in France - Having a wish to work for an International Airline - Linda needs a 2nd language… She leaves for France determined she will learn French as an au pair - it's not quite that straight-forward though… I'm not going ...more
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Linda Kovic-Skow is an award-winning nonfiction travel author of French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2..., and French Illusions: From Tours to Paris - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2....

Originally from Seattle, she currently winters in Saint Petersburg, Florida, and spends summers on a boat in the Pacific Northwest Water
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Other books in the series

French Illusions (2 books)
  • From Tours to Paris (French Illusions Book 2)