Greetings dear readers and friends. Well, it’s not every day that I get to review such a delightful book as Keith Van Sickle’s latest foray into the ups and downs of expat life in Provence: Are We French Yet? Keith and Val’s Adventures in Provence.
And I say “latest” as this is indeed the second time Keith has blessed us with his quick wit and insightful views on everyday life in the south of France. I had the pleasure of reviewing his first book, One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence.
Are We French Yet? has much the same feel as Keith’s first work… as in it’s a real “boots on the ground” look at French culture from an expat point-of-view. We learn about the author’s ongoing love affair with Europe, which started with his first expat experience in Switzerland – where he lived with his wife, and steadfast Eurofile, Val for 5 years.
From this adventure, grew a lifelong yearning to make the continent their home. And while they ultimately returned to Silicon Valley and their American lifestyle, they never gave up on the idea that they could make a life abroad work. And like all good inspirational stories get their start, with a lot of elbow grease and an impressive amount of risk-taking, they quit their 9 to 5 jobs and started working as consultants.
Already a pretty fabulous dream in the making, n’est pas?
With their newfound flexibility, they became enamored with the French lifestyle, and specifically Provence, and decided to spend 3 months of the year here… which they’ve been doing for the past 9 years.
And what fun and interesting years they’ve been.
Keith and Val prefer to rent different properties each time they come to Provence – mainly staying close to the charming town of St. Rémy de Provence – which has given them the opportunity to become friends with the locals and learn much about the region along the way.
Like the time Keith went in for a doctor’s visit and said doctor just happened to be a huge fan of the US and a huge fan of wine (a pretty good combo if you ask me) so Keith and Val were spirited away for a private tour of a winery in Châteauneuf du Pape – “doctor’s orders”!
Besides recounting their numerous adventures “down south”, Keith also gives us a window, a very accurate window, into French culture. Trips to the butcher unfold into detailed discussions of the quality of meats, cooking techniques, and enquiries into family life. They bump head-on into a French strike (the “real French national sport”), get schooled on fashion from the Scarf Man, and indulge in a lot of what makes this country so great: good food & good wine.
And woven throughout the book is Keith and Val’s ongoing efforts to master the French language. All I can say is… bravo! I identified with their ups and downs, and hurdles and faux pas, every step of the way. French is one tough language and, as an expat, it’s heartwarming to see their progress.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading about Keith and Val’s adventures in Provence as much as I did, and I’m very happy to be able to offer one reader a copy of Are We French Yet?
The book is available on Amazon and has debuted to excellent reviews.
In order to win a copy of Are We French Yet? Keith and Val’s Adventures in Provence, please leave a comment below telling us where you think you might like to live in France and why.
One reader will be chosen at random (using random.org) on Saturday, February 2nd (12pm EST).
Thank you for your entries and bon chance les amis!