Time travel? No, just a book club in France
As I sat at the Jardin Publique in Bordeaux, I overheard a Mom talking about a book club. A month later another Mom at a ballet class spoke about the same book club. My French was getting better, and I decided what better way to improve my French. I did what any American would do, "Hi, I just heard you talking. I am Carli's Mom, and I am trying to improve my French. Would you have room for one more at your book club?" The look on their faces was of utter shock, "This is an exclusive group. I am not sure we could accept you. I will ask." Gwedeline never got back to me. I didn't give up, "What about that book club? What book are you reading?"
A few weeks later I heard I could come if I promised not to take the discussion out of the group. They decided having an American perspective could bring an exciting twist to their club.
Their focus was classic French literature... Balzac, Camus, Gide, Victor Hugo and much more. I had four weeks to prepare for my evening and inhale one of these classics; in French of course.
I was nervous on that first night. I arrived and was told not to ring the bell but rather to tap on a window. It opened, and I was told to climb in. Not waking the children was a priority so in I climbed with the rest of the women. Once in the kitchen, the wine started flowing. Six women were putting the last touches on the dinner; always a four-course meal with a beautifully set table. We then sat, discussed and ate. Within about one hour the first personal links to the book came out; struggles, illness, affairs, missed chances. These ladies were not best friends, they were well educated, and from a wealthy background and once a month they let their guard down in this group, and everything was shared. When the cigarettes came out of the Louis Vuitton bags, you knew it was going to get even more serious. I felt like I had been transported back in time to an era long gone.
At first, I worried I was spying on the French bourgeoisie as if I were an intruder, but then I realized they had included me, they wanted me there, they trusted me. I won't share their stories, but I will say I was educated on just how different and yet beautiful cultures can be. It was one of my great successes in France. Thank you, ladies, I will never forget you, your lovely homes and lavish dinners and your sometimes scandalous stories.
–Allison Ochs, Social Worker M.S.W. , Coach, Expat, Mother of three, Wife