Release Date: August 1, 2011
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
In her mid-thirties Karen has it all: a career as a fashion editor, a handsome boyfriend, a fab flat in west London and an array of gorgeous shoes. But when her 'plus one' leaves, she wonders if there is more to life than high fashion. So, she hangs up her Manolos and waves goodbye to her city lifestyle, deciding to go it alone in a run-down house in rural Poitou-Charentes, western France. Once there, she encounters a host of new friends and unsuitable suitors, soon learning that true happiness can be found in the simplest of things - a bike ride through the countryside on a summer evening, or six glasses of Pinot in a neighbour's garden. If you've ever dreamed of chucking away your BlackBerry and downshifting, "Tout Sweet" is perfect summer reading.
Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France is a memoir written in an entertaining chick-lit style that I really like. Who doesn't wish they could just quit their nine-to-five job and live the simple life in an idyllic, peaceful European countryside. I certainly have and it was fun living vicariously through Karen Wheeler.
Though I enjoyed her recounting all her misadventures in renovating her house Maison Coquelicot ("house of the wild poppy")--which made me think that if a Manolo-wearing girl like Karen can do all that DIY she did I can too--it was her neighbors that were the most fun to get to know. There were a lot of crazy characters like Miranda who drank like a fish and Victor the estate agent who had a crush on Karen, among others. There were a lot of drama going on and there's even a surprising twist (or more like a big reveal) in the end. I equally appreciated her descriptions of the French countryside, the little village of Villiers and the house, Maison Coquelicot, itself.
Having said that, it did start slow and I wasn't able to get into the story until about two-thirds of the book when Karen finally moves to France and I meet more of her neighbors. This memoir has the similar feel of Eat, Pray, Love but I found Tout Sweet to be a lot more fun to read because it's wonderfully written in that Karen tells her experiences and story in a way in which the reader is like her best girlfriend. It's funny and charming and I recommend it if you're looking for some light summer reading. 4 out 5 stars