Francophile book review: Are we French yet? by Keith Van Sickle
If you’ve ever lived as an expat anywhere, then this delightful account will make you smile. You’ll find yourself identifying with adaptation to life in a foreign culture. And if you’ve ever been intrigued to try life as an étranger, then this anecdotal narrative will tug your imagination towards making the leap.
There is touring, and then there is la vie quotidienne.
Every day in the latter is an adventure.
Its potential is in no small part a function of the connection to the community and that distils to communication skills.
The author, Keith, shows us that the dividends are boundless for the investment to achieve functional fluency in the language.
Exploration, examination and comparison: two lives
For Keith and his wife, Val, their learning adventure is doubled because everything is measured in its variance to their prior daily life in California. Along the way they discover the many differences that often distinguish between a daily grind and a daily life.
If the unexamined life is not worth living, then what better way for Keith and Val to examine theirs than by exploration of their Provencal life in St-Rémy. The necessary side by side comparison renders a parallel examination of the one that they at least temporarily departed. Swapping forests is a good way to see trees.
Appreciating Provence: traditions
Keith describes a charming appeal to the social fabric of Provence and its pace of life. However, there is no less a drop in overall productivity with the abundance of holidays, vacations, strikes, and maddening bureaucracy that simply requires a “work-around”.
In the end, any place that allows dogs to do just about anything, but vote is worth plenty of adjustment.
The farm-to-table mentality that is currently in vogue in the US has been standard procedure for generations throughout Provence. There naturally follows an attendant respect for growing, harvesting, selling, preparing, and of course sharing food and drink. That respect can be counted in time. There is very little that is done fast in honoring traditions.
Life in Provence: rhythm
Keith shows us that not everything in Provence that can be counted, counts. Moreover, there is much that counts that cannot be counted.
If one can reset one’s bio-rhythm metronome to Provencal’s, then a marvellous and captivating experience awaits.
Have you been to Provence? Do you have delightful antidotes and reflections to share? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!
Buy the book: ‘Are we French yet?’
Read more from Keith Van Sickle.