ARE WE FRENCH YET? A Book Review
After living demanding and fast-paced lives in Silicon Valley, taking on a less commanding pace of life living in Provence is a welcoming change but not without surprises and the challenges of diverging cultures and the language barrier for Keith and Val. Take a trip to France with Keith Van Sickle Author’s website and discover and experience the splendour of French living through his travel memoir.
Years ago, Keith Van Sickle and his wife, Val had a chance to live abroad when Keith was offered an expat assignment in Switzerland and during their stay they had a chance to travel all over Europe and they found that every country had a different language and culture and cuisine. When they returned to the Silicon Valley, they felt that life back home was akin to black and white while life abroad was in colour so they decided to become part-time expats splitting their time between two countries and they chose Provence/ France as their second home. For a long time they were living two separate and different lives, the French and the American but gradually their two worlds started to collide and blend together bit by bit. Their adventures have proven to be most fulfilling as they forge new friendships and make significant progress in learning a new language, not just French language but Provençal patois.
Keith is observant and informative in sharing his entire French experience and he muses about how neither he nor his wife has a talent for languages and the idea of speaking French is way beyond what he ever thought he could do. In Are we French Yet the Van Sickle’s French experience is portrayed to be positive and their optimism is certainly infectious and inspiring.
Keith and Val are indeed the lucky couple who live the best of both worlds, spending some months in the centre of the dynamic and technology driven world and the other part of the year living the balance in French life and indulging in sipping wines at vineyards, picnicking with new found acquaintance amidst olive trees and rolling hills and playing pétangue. What started as a vague idea how they would do it, together Keith and Val have made it happen and together they courageously embrace twenty-six tenses of French verbs (not easy for someone in their 40s and 50s) and together their hearts are in France and America. Last but not least, together Keith and Val enrich their lives as a couple with new found friends and endless new surprises.
In Are we French Yet, Keith Van Sickle writes,
‘ In France, they say that the best wine, the very best , is a wine that you share with friends. It doesn’t matter what kind of grapes are in it , or the kind of grapes are in it, or the vintage, or the name of the label. It’s the act of drinking it with friends that make it great.’
He also writes,
‘…….but to really know Provence takes longer. It needs time to seep into you because Provence, like the best things in life, can’t be rushed.’
Besides liberally sharing his French education and knowledge on festivals such as Fête de la Transhumance and history of France, Keith’s narrations are interjected with humour, insights and warmth. Are we French Yet is indeed an engaging and delightful read particularly if you are a Francophile like me. The book will kindle the sense of adventure in travellers who do not just want a vacation but to live like a local.