It’s the question every Francophile poses after spending a bit of time in the country of wine and cheese: “Am I French yet?” Writer Keith Van Sickle poses this exact question for him and his wife in his second novella, “Are We French Yet?”
The book is a sequel of sorts to his first novella, “One Sip At A Time,” which chronicled Van Sickle and his wife Val’s temporary move to Provence after deciding they needed a dramatic change in their lives. Much like the first, the second book is formatted as a series of short, chapter-long stories. Despite now being several years into their Provence project, where the couple moves to France for three months a year, they still see the country with a sort of wide-eyed innocence, awe-struck as they discover that things were not exactly what they thought.
It was a five-year stint in Switzerland that convinced the couple they needed to spend more time abroad. Quitting their jobs, the duo became consultants so they could more easily split their time between the U.S. and France. Barely speaking the language and uncertain of the countryside customs, they packed their bags and headed to Provence.
Just as Frenchly described the first book, a memoire-guide would be the best descriptor of “Are We French Yet?” with perhaps a touch of homage thrown in. From experiencing the art of the French débat to musing over the number of French political parties to how lovingly the French engage with dogs (including Van Sickle’s), the minutiae of everyday life is examined and regarded with a great sense of humor and the slight reverence that only a true Francophile possesses for all things French.
Lovers of the South of France and anyone who likes to muse over the life of the French will enjoy this quick and easy read. If you haven’t been yet to the South of France, Van Sickle’s tales certainly will give you the urge to book your flight to Marseille, rent a car, and drive off into the countryside. As I’m sure he’d tell you, great vineyards, delicious cheese, and the delightfully leisurely living of Provence await you.