Another one of my favorite characters in French Illusions is Madame Dubois. Given her arrogant, unforgiving attitude, she is the natural protagonist in my story. As I worked my way through my diary, I recounted many heartbreaking interactions with my patron. Here is a sample of one of them:
“Ten minutes later, I returned to the salon with a tray of refreshments and under the watchful eyes of everyone there, I poured and served the tea. My hand trembled, but I kept going and completed the task without incident. Heaving a sigh of satisfaction, I plopped down next to Alexandre.
It felt good to be around other people besides the Dubois family. Even though I still struggled with French conversations, at least now I understood many of the words spoken around me. If I encountered trouble with certain words, I knew how to ask the speaker to speak more slowly or repeat what they’d said.
Turning toward Alexandre, I tried out a new phrase. “Donne-moi une pâtisserie, s’il te plait.” Please pass the pastry. Madame Moulon noticed and congratulated me on my progress with the language, “Mademoiselle Kovic, votre français s’améliore.”
“Merci beaucoup, madame.” I replied, glancing at my patron, eyes hopeful.
Madame Dubois opened her mouth, but no words of praise burst forth. Instead, she pointed to the teapot and asked me in English to pour her mother another cup of tea.”
Chapter 15 in French Illusions was such fun to write. I pictured myself walking through the Songais market in the Loire Valley, describing my stops along the way. I wanted readers to feel as though they were right alongside of me, experiencing the event with me. Here is an excerpt:
“Rows of tables presided over by neighboring farmers and tradesman filled the square, many of them offering tempting samples to potential customers. Everything from pungent goat cheeses to hand-made sweaters were on display. Ahead, I noticed a booth offering tastes of guignolet, a local liqueur made from wild and sour cherries. The vendor, a deeply tanned man wearing a beret, waved me over. “Mademoiselle! Venez donc goûter!”
Unable to resist the temptation, I stepped up to his booth and he poured me a small drink, pushing it toward me with a wink. Down it went, its syrupy sweet taste so scrumptious I licked my lips afterward. “Merci,” I said. “C’est très bon.”
Down a few stalls, I discovered products made entirely from honey, including confections, lotions, and soaps. The scent compelled me to bring a bar to my nose, closing my eyes as I inhaled.
Curious about a small crowd near a retailer up ahead, I peeked around a bystander and discovered a colorful display of misshapen orange, yellow, and striped squashes. It took me a few moments, but my eyes honed in on the real stars of the show. Unique samples of squash resembling geese and ducks sat upright, charming the audience—the children in particular.”
I would love to hear from my readers – do you have a chapter or character you especially enjoyed in French Illusions?