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The German nation I knew concealed its ugly past. Appalled by the lies, I opted at nineteen to leave West Germany and continue my studies elsewhere. In 1964 I went to Paris, knowing few words of French. Ten months later I received my Advanced Level French Diploma. In Paris I discovered my love for learning languages. Eventually I became fluent in Dutch, English, Italian, and Russian.

Between 1965 and 1967 I moved from Paris to London, Bournemouth and New York City, where I briefly attended Columbia University. Then I returned to Paris and earned my diploma as a French/German translator. In 1968, Pan American World Airways hired me as a stewardess. For a decade I flew around the globe, and in Rome, Italy, I met my future husband, a Pan American pilot.  In 1978 I retired from the airline after the birth of our son. A daughter was soon to follow. As a stay-at-home mother in Connecticut, I re-discovered my interest in music and resumed studying piano, which I’d abandoned at fifteen. When my husband’s career with Airbus moved us to Toulouse, France in 1988, I learned to play the organ in the Cathédrale St. Etienne. In 1991 we returned to the USA and lived in Miami. There I became a piano teacher and organist and worked several years at the Berlitz Language School as a German, French, and English instructor. I now reside in Virginia's Northern Neck.  

I was born in Germany during the final months of WWII and grew up in a small-town east of Düsseldorf. At ten I entered a Gymnasium and graduated in 1964 with the Abitur in Latin and science.  My dream then? To become a missionary doctor like my idol, Dr. Albert Schweitzer. But life had other plans for me.

In my library with Tosca

I didn’t aspire to become a writer until late in life. Lack of courage kept me from it.  Why? A shadow from my past. Teachers at the German Gymnasium told me I lacked a talent for languages. Even in my mother tongue, German, I’d labored to produce a well-written essay and receive a good grade. Yet I loved to read. From childhood, books were my companions. German literature to begin with, then translated works by French, Russian, English-speaking authors, until I could read works in their original versions. In my youth I read for pleasure and to nourish a curious mind.  That curiosity is alive and well today.  And the old fear of writing?  It’s gone. I hope you’ll read my first two books.

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Ilona Duncan. Proudly created with Wix.com