Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France by Karen Wheeler
Publication Date: August 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Non-fiction/ Memoir
Pages: Paperback, 320pp
(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks)
Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound
Karen Wheeler on the WEB: blog, twitter
Thirtysomething fashion editor Karen has it all: a handsome boyfriend, a fabulous flat in west London, and an array of gorgeous shoes. But when her boyfriend leaves, she makes an unexpected decision: to hang up her Manolos and wave goodbye to her glamorous city lifestyle to go it alone in a run down house in rural Poitou-Charentes, central western France.
Acquiring a host of new friends and unsuitable suitors, she learns that true happiness might be found in the simplest of things - a bike ride through the countryside on a summer evening, or a glass of wine or three in her neighbor's courtyard.
Tout Sweet is the perfect read for anyone who dreams of chucking away their Blackberry in favor of blackberrying and downshifting to a romantic, alluring locale where new friendships and new loves, are just some of the treasures to be found amongst life's simple pleasures.
Karen Wheeler's memoir Tout Sweet has a unique tone to it that will have readers enjoying this read as much as any fiction novel they might pick up. In the vein of memoirs like, Eat Pray Love, Tout Sweet is about a fashion editor with a fast paced London life that decides to completely turn her world upside down by moving to a dilapidated fixer-upper in rural France. Wheeler's experiences are both poignant and funny as she recounts her time in France, in a witty chick-lit style that is all her own.
at 34 Karen Wheeler thought she was on top of the world. With a handsome boyfriend, a classy upscale job and more accessories in her closet than most people have in a lifetime. But one year later, everything has changed. When her boyfriend abruptly steps out of the picture, Karen makes a life-changing decision to leave her old life as a fashion editor behind. She needed a change of pace and a short holiday just wasn't going to cut it. She buys a old house in a rural French village that has more issues than she can handle and finds herself in for an adventure of a life time. She goes from a chic elegant lifestyle to the simple pleasures of the country and finds happiness in the most unlikely of places.
Tout Sweet is written in such a fresh and engaging style. Karen Wheeler writes her memoir just like she was talking to a friend. Readers will love the way Karen is able to convey her emotions and draw them into the story of what was going on in her life. Her misadventures with the house she buys in France are nothing short of hilarious. She isn't near a good restaurant or a good market and spends her first year in France subsisting on bread and cheese. But all the while she seems content and more at ease with her country life than she ever did in her big city life. I thought she did an amazing job of making her memoir read more like a novel than non-fiction usually does. I found it very enjoyable and I believe the reader will also.
Having read, Eat, Pray, Love I think I was expecting Tout Sweet to be similar. But I noticed the differences right from the beginning. Karen Wheeler's story is more organic, it has a more realistic feel to it. It is interesting to me that a person could just pick up and leave their old life behind. It's certainly not something I would be able to do and I found her situation unique, but very entertaining. I really enjoyed learning about her neighbors in France and the people she met along the way. Most of her would-be suitors were a hoot. I liked the way she was able to make the reader feel like they were right there with her when she whopped the guy in the hotel with her designer bag, too funny!
One of my favorite parts of the book were Karen Wheeler's descriptions of the French countryside and the little village she found herself in. I liked how she talked about the renovations to the house she had bought and her interactions with the people around her. She made me as a reader feel like I was a part of the fun, and along for the ride.
Though the book started out a little slow it picked up speed when Karen actually moved to France and at that point I couldn't put it down. I really enjoyed the overall feel of the book and I recommend it to any readers who are interested in rural France or interested in leaving behind their old life in the city for something simpler and slower. i love it!
Tout Sweet is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Karen Wheeler is a former fashion editor for the Mail on Sunday and current writer for the Financial Times 'How to Spend It' magazine and London's Daily Mail. Her work has appeared in the Evening Standard and You magazines, Sunday Times Style and numerous international publications.