Tuesday, May 14, 2013

When Nicola Doherty ran away....


Here's Nicola's story...

When I was twenty – a very immature twenty – I went to Paris for a year to work as a jeune fille au pair. After meeting a few different families, it seemed I could pick and choose: shallowly, I chose, not necessarily the nicest family but the one with the glitziest apartment and nicest accommodation for me.  They lived on the third floor of a hotel particulière on the Rue de Sèvres in the heart of Paris’s 7th arrondissement. The furniture was Louis Quinze; Yves Saint Laurent apparently lived in the building. Madame was a former model whose social life now seemed a full-time activity, and les petits were a boy of seven and a girl of nine.

The kids were sweet, but overscheduled. The working day started at 7 am with breakfast, searches for hairbrushes and stickers and a hair-raising walk to school during which the little boy gave me frequent heart attacks by running off around corners, hiding behind cars or leaping into the road. Then I had the day free until 3pm, when it was time to pick the kids up from school and ferry them to their next activity. Judo, swimming, ballet, football, art: there was at least one extracurricular event every evening, plus making dinner and supervising an hour’s homework each when we got home. The little girl was sometimes so exhausted I had to help her with her homework while she lay in bed.  Weekends were family time, during which I hovered on the sidelines, listening to praise of the previous au pair, who was apparently much more organised than me – ‘impeccable’ in fact, was the word used.  Though I did get the inkling that turnover was high. ‘Ici, les jeune filles au pair, ça défile,’ I overheard my employer say with pride to a friend. Luckily my French was good enough to know she meant they had a ‘parade’ of au pair girls, in other words that they came and went, not that we defiled the place, though to be honest both seemed possible.

A holiday in their chateau was looming; I couldn't face it. I made up some feeble excuse and left in the dawn light, shutting the massive door behind me with a feeling of euphoria. I hopped on a train to Strasbourg, to stay with some friends who were doing an Erasmus year abroad. The free evenings and weekends were a revelation: I decided that from now on I would only work during daytime hours. I went back to Paris and got a job with an art museum, which paid me enough to rent my very own little fire-trap on the sixth floor in the 6th arrondissement (sans ascenseur).

Looking back, I still feel guilty for running away. The family was perfectly nice, they paid rather generously (by au pair standards) and the duties really weren’t that onerous. I just wasn’t cut out to be an au pair girl. It’s a weird position: living with a family, yet not a part of it, and looking after children when you’re barely more than a child yourself. I hope the next girl who paraded through their door was a little more impeccable than me.

Here's Nicola's latest book... and you can get it here.
From London to Italy with love...

Alice Roberts is having a rubbish summer.

She's terrified of her boss, her career is stalling, and she's just been dumped - by text message. But things are about to change... 

When her boss Olivia is taken ill, Alice is sent on the work trip of a lifetime: to a villa in Sicily, to edit the autobiography of Hollywood bad boy Luther Carson. But it's not all yachts, nightclubs and Camparis. Luther's arrogant agent Sam wants him to ditch the book. Luther himself is gorgeous, charming and impossible to read. There only seems to be one way to get his attention, and it definitely involves mixing business with pleasure. Alice is out of the office, and into deep trouble...

Nicola grew up in Dublin and now lives in London with her husband. Her first book The Out of Office Girl was shortlisted for the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year Awards in the Romantic Comedy category. Her second book, If I Could Turn Back Time, is due out this autumn. You find out more about Nicola here or on Twitter @nicoladoherty_

2 comments:

Georgina Troy said...

This book sounds great fun and I'll have to buy it after reading about it.

I thought Nicola was very brave to escape from the family in Paris, it sounds fascinating but must have been strange living on the outskirts of a family's life.

Liz Fenwick said...

Georgina - I agree! I think sunning away was the answer in this case!
lx