Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler


Having lived the dream in France for over eight years you may think reading about other peoples lives in France wouldn’t interest me anymore – wrong, I love it.  Before we moved I couldn’t get enough of these sorts of books and although I will admit to loosing interest in them for a few years after we moved, which is probably why I missed Tout Sweet when it first came out, I am happy to play catch up now. 

Tout Sweet: Hanging Up my High Heels for a New Life in France is a very readable book; from the moment you take in the illustrations on the front cover you can’t help stepping into Karen’s life and devouring chapter after chapter.  She is one brave lady, moving over here in her thirties (like we did) is not as common as retiring over here, and to do it alone is pretty unique.  I got some strange looks when people realised I would be here alone for a lot of the time when Ade was away working, so I can imagine the reactions she received. It is therefore not surprising that one of the French villagers assumed she was married to one of the other expats, oops!  

Karen also lives in the Poitou-Charentes, so we are almost neighbours, and it was nice to be familiar with some of the places she wrote about, especially as our UK lives were so different.  Karen was a fashion editor, based in London with a glitzy social life, champagne receptions, designer clothes and handbags, the names of which when she mentioned them often meant nothing to me – oh yes, I really am that backward when it comes to fashion.  Adapting to life in a village where the entertainment was expat scrabble evenings and a cup of tea, plus renovating and decorating her house (undertaken in designer dresses, no less), can’t have been easy, but she coped and writes an entertaining account for her readers with some heartfelt personal bits too.  Living in France does change you, and I was glad to see that she also does more in the kitchen now she is living in France, just like me.  She makes her little house sound so inviting I wanted to join her for an apero in her flowery courtyard, despite having my own flowery outside terrace where I’m often to be found supping rosé and avoiding expat social events!  Karen, if you are reading this and want to join me for a virtual apero and give a shout out to your books you would be more than welcome to guest post here.

If you want to find out what rural French living for us expats is all about this book is for you.

I am now off to catch up on her next adventures in France in Toute Allure: Falling in Love in Rural France and Tout Soul: The Pursuit of Happiness in Rural France. before she finishes the book she is currently busy working on, Sweet Encore.  Happy scribbling, Karen.