French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley by Linda Kovic-Skow

French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley by Linda Kovic-SkowBlurb

In the summer of 1979, twenty-one-year-old Linda Kovic contracts to become an au pair for an aristocratic French family in the Loire Valley. To secure the position, she pretends to speak the language, fully aware her deception will be discovered once she arrives at her destination.

Based on the author’s diary, French Illusions captures Linda’s fascinating and often challenging real life story inside and outside the Chateau de Montclair. Her compelling story details her challenges and triumphs as she tries to adjust to her new life with Madame and Monsieur Dubois and their children. Join Linda on her unforgettable adventure of discovery and romance in an extraordinary part of the world.

My Perspective

This is the eighteenth book I read from my post Credit Where Credit’s Due. I read about French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley by Linda Kovic-Skow from Ionia at Readful Things Blog. You can read her thoughts on the book here.

This book is the memoir of Linda Kovic-Skow’s time as an American au pair in France.

Although i was curious to read this book, i had my hesitations on whether i would like it because of the deception that gives her the opportunity to be an au pair. I wondered how this would be received not only at the beginning but for the duration of her stay. Although i understood why she did it in the first place, i was disappointed in how she handled herself from that point onwards.

I found it really hard to like Linda. I found her to be a bit of a selfish, spoiled brat. I thought her expectations were way off and her attitude wasn’t in the right place. I couldn’t relate to her and so because of all that, i couldn’t sympathise with her situation. Obviously i felt that Madame was out of line, however so was Linda. The rest of the family and acquaintances were in their parts likeable and not.

The romantic aspects in the book had my eyes rolling in my head. I couldn’t believe that this was actually a true story. Without trying to be rude, it read like a tween’s fantasy diary.

What kept me reading then? The descriptions of the French countryside, the French food, the French architecture. Basically the French parts of the story were a wonderful read.

By the end of the book i did feel truly sorry for Linda and the way she was treated – it was completely wrong. However it didn’t reconcile her to myself.

Overall i was quite disappointed in this book and would only recommend it if you like stories along the line of a teenage summer romance with A LOT of challenges in it.

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The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C. MoraisBlurb

Abbas Haji is the proud owner of a modest family restaurant in Mumbai. But when tragedy strikes, Abbas propels his boisterous family into a picaresque journey across Europe, finally settling in the remote French village of Lumiere, where he establishes an Indian restaurant, Maison Mumbai.

Much to the horror of their neighbour, a famous chef named Madame Mallory, the Indian establishment opposite her own begins to garner a following. Little does she know that the young Hassan, son of Abbas, has discovered French cuisine and has vowed to become a great French chef. Hassan is a natural whose talents far outweigh Mme. Mallory, but the tough old Frenchwoman will not brook defeat.

Thus ensues an entertaining culinary war pitting Hassan’s Mumbai-toughened father against the imperious Mme. Mallory, leading the young Hassan to greatness and his true destiny.

This vivid, hilarious and charming novel – about how just a small distance of a hundred feet can represent the gulf between different cultures, different people, their tastes and their destinies – is simply bursting with eccentric characters, delicious flavours and high emotion.

My Perspective

Having watched the movie when it came out last year, i was familiar with the story line of The Hundred-Foot Journey. However much to my surprise, the movie is actually quite different to the book so i actually had no idea what was going to happen next. I think i preferred the book because comparing the two now, the movie is very “Hollywood” whether the book is unpredictable and even a bit melancholy.

I really liked Hassan. As a young boy and teenager he was really quite endearing. As he grew older i admired his humility. He was smart, talented, respectful and you could really get inside his head. I loved his family and the way they were described – so colourful and full of life. Madame Mallory was a force of a character and you couldn’t help but like her even though she could be so frosty. I really liked the comparison between the French and the Indian – in terms of culture, people and cuisine. And how Hassan became the product of those two colliding.

The writing was so descriptive and i loved how even the non-food descriptions were compared to food! It was hard to read this book without getting hungry.

The book was really well written, drawing you into Hassan’s world. The author really made you feel like you were a part of it with the use of different senses to set the scenes. It was a really interesting premise – really quite fresh. I really enjoyed how everything wasn’t spelled out to you either. There was a lot of subtlety.

Overall i really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it, especially to those who like stories that involve descriptions of food! It was a really rich story, so colourful and vibrant.