Book Review: "Tout Sweet" by Karen Wheeler

Summary from In her mid-thirties, fashion editor Karen has it all: a handsome boyfriend, a fab flat in west London, and an array of gorgeous shoes. But when her boyfriend, Eric, leaves she makes an unexpected decision: to hang up her Manolos and wave good-bye to her glamorous city lifestyle to go it alone in a run-down house in rural Poitou-Charentes, central western France.

Tout Sweet is the perfect read for anyone who dreams of chucking away their BlackBerry in favor of real 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.

I love stories that take place in other countries. I especially love travel memoirs that take place in foreign countries. It's probably because I would love to live abroad myself and experience the life that the author is living. I also think it's great to get a different perspective from different authors as well as the different types of places that they go to with the adventures that they have.

Karen is a late 30-something Brit who goes to France to start a new life away from memories of her ex-boyfriend and other unhappy memories. Her journey begins with an email that was misdirected to her but soon finds out that the email saves her life. She meets up with old friends, new romances and a old house that she soon claims as her own. Throughout the book we see how Karen learns to move on from her old relationship and begin her life again.

While I enjoyed the book, it wasn't what I was expected. I thought that this was going to be more of a travel memoir with Karen talking about her experiences with the French culture and lifestyle. There are sections where she does this and it's very fun to live vicariously through her when she does. However, the rest of the book is more about the relationships in her life than it is about travel. This isn't a problem but since I was expecting one thing and got another, it was quite a shock. Some of the men that Karen meets seemed to appear and disappear very fast. Then there are others that we don't really get a final resolution on. One more note includes something that I normally don't have a problem with memoirs. However since the author did put up a note in the preface stating that she's changed names, places and some situations, it makes me wonder how much of her story is actually true. Conversations and aspects of the story seem very detailed so I just wondered how much is actually remembered and what was embellished.

Overall though this was an interesting read. While the travel part was lessened, reading about Karen's love life was actually quite interesting. The drama involving her friends was captivating as well. If you are in the mood for a relationship memoir that takes place in a foreign country, this is the book for you.

Tout Sweet by Karen Wheeler is published by Sourcebooks (2011)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


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