Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book review of Sweet Encore by Karen Wheeler

French Village Diaries book review Sweet Encore Karen Wheeler memoir
Sweet Encore by Karen Wheeler

My review today is for the fourth memoir by Karen Wheeler, Sweet Encore; a road trip from Paris to Portugal, that also takes us to her home in rural France along the way.

There is something very comforting about Karen’s writing style and being back in one of her memoirs is like meeting up with an old friend for a good girly catch-up. Life in her French village is moving on, the bar has re-opened, other new faces are arriving and changes are afoot for Karen too. Rural France might not have the fast pace and excitement of city living, but that doesn’t mean it is dull either, especially as Karen has a gift of noticing the little things and sharing them in a way that made me smile.

In this book Karen and her dog Biff are joined by Arianna, her niece; sent to Auntie Carrie’s reform school for the summer – well that is what her Dad is hoping. Worried that rural France might not live up to teenager Arianna’s expectations, Karen thinks big. What better way to bond with her niece (who lives on the other side of the world) than hop in a car and take a road trip through France, northern Spain and into Portugal? Along the way Karen shares with us the sights they see, lessons she hopes Arianna will remember and more importantly the fun and laughter they enjoyed too. Those who have read Tout Soul will understand Karen’s desire to visit Portugal, home to her friend Luis, and there are some very moving moments when their road trip arrives in his village. I’ve never been to Portugal, but Karen’s descriptions and obvious love for it, especially the pastéis de nata (custard tarts) and Vinho Verde (local white wine), made it seem to be worth a visit just to sample them.

French Village Diaries book review France in Four Seasons Karen Wheeler memoir
France in Four Seasons by Karen Wheeler

When I read Sweet Encore it was Karen’s latest memoir about life in France, but for those of you who enjoy her writing as much as I do, I’m delighted to let you know there is a new baby in her series of books. France in Four Seasons, with the same gorgeous artwork that entices you into all her books, is out now as an ebook. This is a collection of short stories and articles she has written over the years about her French village life. It is like a catch up as well as a revisit – some new stories, some felt more familiar, but all are 100% Karen and packed full of her fabulous descriptions. I was also delighted when she asked to include my France et Moi interview with her in the book – I wonder can I now class myself as almost published?

If you are looking for some easy-read books to help take you away from the gloom of winter, these two will be perfect.

You can read my reviews of Karen’s previous books here: