Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tout Sweet- Karen Wheeler

I recently went on vacation out to the East Coast of Canada. I fell in love with the relaxed pace, the people and the scenery. I found myself looking around and thinking..." Hmm I could buy a little house and retire out here." Well Karen Wheeler took it a step farther. She bought a run down house in France on a whim and said good bye to England. 

Tout Sweet is the story of her journey to change and simplify her life.

"To be honest, my life in London had started to seem very empty. I had wardrobes crammed with " It" bags and "must-have" shoes, most of them gifts from designers to thank me for articles I'd written, and I had cupboards full of free beauty products. I had spent most of my life so far focused on work and chasing material possessions. Now I had them in abundance and yet, at thirty-five, I was unhappy. There had to be more to life, I'd decided, than a stockpile of sought-after accessories."

Tout Sweet follows the progress of the house renovation, life in a small village and details the people she meets. I really enjoyed the descriptions of the house renovations and the village itself.

Unfortunately a lot of the book reads more like a social diary and the prose themselves are somewhat stilted. Some of the 'natives' are wonderful, some are a bit odd, but I think I found the ex-pats the most worrisome. Karen's friend Dave and his son sounded downright dangerous to me. Dave's son leaves an ax on Karen's pillow - something she finds odd but fluffs off. They later have a falling out but she regrets not having Dave's friendship later on. Count yourself lucky I say.

Karen's flight to France was also prompted by a broken heart. Of course I understand the desire to find a partner, but at times Wheeler's search smacks of desperation. She seems to have a knack for picking the wrong bloke.

"He has a girlfriend but he wants to be friends with me. And I can't help thinking that my life is going to be so much better with him in it."

Although at the end of the year, Karen is happy with herself and her choices.

"And as I have rebuilt the house, I have also rebuilt my life. I have learned that I can move to a place where I know no one and create a new life for myself. It is very empowering to know that."

I applaud Karen for chasing her dream. It does take a lot of gumption to pick up stakes and start over. You can find Karen on her blog and on Twitter.


bermudaonion said...

I thought this book sounded good because of the French setting, but now I'm not so sure.

Dorte H said...

It sounds as if she had a good idea but not enough to put into it. She should have killed off a character or two ;)