Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Book review of Faking It In France by Karen Bates


Faking It In France is Karen’s story, written as a form of therapy when she was unhappy with her life in  France, having followed her dream and moved to Normandy ten years previously.

french village diaries BookWormWednesday reviews Faking it in France
This was a difficult book for me to start with. Was she going to ‘diss’ my France? Was I going to disagree with every word she wrote and not enjoy it? Or maybe it would make me question my life? I will be the first to admit that I own (and often wear) a pair of rose tinted glasses, but I also appreciate living in the real France is not the same as being here on holiday. Nowhere is perfect, France included, and running a business here can be an administrative nightmare at times. There was a lot in this book that was familiar to me and some bits that scared me – we are still 18 months off being here ten years, so what if by then (when Ed will also be away at Lycée, like Karen’s son) I feel as unhappy about life as Karen did?



However, the more I read the more I realised how different we were. I am not a very social person, I’ve lead a fairly dull life and I don’t need too much excitement – Ade is convinced I was born without an adrenal gland as I just don’t get that buzz! Seeing a deer on a dog walk, the first swallow of spring or harvesting a barrow of courgettes is exciting enough for me. Karen on the other hand has had a very colourful life, some of the things she has done, people she has met and stories she shared had me laughing out loud a lot and as for Sam the dog, life with him is never dull. For a nosy person like me her life was a great read and a real eye opener at times. This book is also a very open account of some very sad times and she admits writing was great therapy. It seemed obvious the quiet life with chickens and a courgette patch might suit me, but it wasn’t for Karen. She has had a busy life and although the book is written in a diary format we are taken back and forth (sometimes at warp speed) as her thoughts travelled through time. This took a bit of getting used to, but seemed totally in character for the story being read. This is an honest and emotional book and is certainly a warts and all account of an expats life in France. I can’t wait to read what book two is all about. 

Karen will also be joining me this Friday as part of my France et Moi feature, where she gets a little nostalgic about France.