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.
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.