Memoir Nightmares

memoirsI’ve often wondered how the main characters in my memoir, the Dubois family, would feel if any of them picked up a copy of French Illusions: My Story as an American Au Pair in the Loire Valley. For those of you unfamiliar with my story, I worked as an au pair for Madame and Monsieur Dubois in France in 1979. In 2007, when I decided to write my memoir, I searched the internet using their real names and found nothing. No mention of them at all. Another search using the name of their chateau produced zero results, so with trepidation I progressed with my project. Five years later, when I published my memoir, I revisited the subject of how the Dubois family might react to my story. I had changed the names of everyone I met in France and followed my diary religiously, but I still worried about the reaction of the Dubois Family. My name was on the cover, after all, and I was sure that Madame Dubois still cursed the day she took me in. Read my book and you’ll understand.

I figured that Madame and Monsieur Dubois would currently be about sixty-five to seventy years old and their children would be in their late thirties to early forties. What if they came across my memoir in a French book store? I imagined Madame reading a few pages, gasping and stumbling to a nearby chair. Her wide eyes would skim the pages while her heart raced. She might even whisper to hear husband, “No, Armand, this can’t be happening to us. You must find that evil woman and make her take down her book.” Oh dear…now my heart was racing.

With this scenario in mind, I investigated my options and signed up for a Multimedia Liability Policy with Axis Insurance Company. This insurance policy lasts the lifetime of the book, and if a lawsuit is filed, the company will supply me with an attorney who will defend me in court. Overkill? Perhaps, but this insurance policy calms me every time I sell a book in France.


  1. Christoph Fischer says:

    That’s an interesting question and one that makes me wonder what you wrote about the Dubois family. I hope you’ll never need the Insurance Company. Of course, French law may differ from others anyway.
    Thanks for this food for thought and the tip about the insurance.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Christoph. I’m pleased to read that you found my post intriguing. You are right about the laws in France and my impetus for acquiring the insurance. Now I hope I never have to use it!

  2. Chris Freed says:

    Memoirs are always tricky. I had to cut through government red tape and classified material for mine- and I lived through it!!

    • Thanks for stopping by Chris. Wow, I’m glad to hear you survived the trials of writing your memoir. It sounds even more difficult than my project. I think my next book will be a novel, lol.

  3. Stephany says:

    Interesting post. Also, ironically, I know two different DuBois families in the United States. Aha! Author Pat Conroy had some interesting things to say about memoirs. 😉

    • Thanks for stopping by Stephany. Whew! Lucky for me that’s not their real name. I didn’t search other countries, but I’m pretty sure this family still reside in France. I’ll check out Pat Conroy. Thanks for the tip.

  4. Wow, that’s very interesting. Getting sued may help sales. 😉 At least that’s what my husband says.

  5. Ha! That image of Madame finding your book is perfect! I almost wish I could be a fly on the wall…

  6. Interesting that you insured yourself against claims! Good luck on the book.

    • Thanks for your comment. Yes, I feel better knowing I’m protected even though the chances are slim the family will ever discover my memoir. It truly would nightmare if they did.

  7. I think that this is a seldom discussed topic, or maybe it is just because I mostly hang around fiction authors, but I think it is an important one.

    • Thank you, Donna. I’m glad that you feel that way. I really went out of my way to protect the identities of the people in my memoir. I just hope none of them ever come across my book.

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