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Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France Paperback – August 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks (August 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402261187
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402261183
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,088 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"A charming chronicle of transforming her unloved and neglected maison into a real home and repairing her broken heart in the process." (Publishers Weekly 20110523)

About the Author

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. Visit Karen at www.toutsweet.net and Twitter @mimipompom1.


More About the Author

Karen Wheeler is an award-winning fashion and beauty writer and former Fashion Editor of the Mail on Sunday newspaper. Born near Liverpool in the north of England, she studied Modern History at Kings College, London University and worked briefly at Sotheby's art auctioneers before embarking on a career in fashion journalism.

During her career she has interviewed many of fashion's top names including Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein and has written on a regular basis for many national newspapers and supplements including the Financial Times, the Daily Mail, the Sunday Times Style, The Mail on Sunday and ES magazine. She is also a three times winner of the Jasmine Literary award for writing about fragrance.

She moved to France in August 2005 thanks to several random twists of fate, initially planning to stay for a year. Five years and two books later, she is still enjoying 'la vie rurale' and fortunately, most of her neighbours - many of whom feature in Tout Sweet and Toute Allure - are still speaking to her. She is currently working on her third book.

More information about the author can be found on her blog, www.toutsweet.net, which charts her everyday life in France and at www.karenwheeler.co.uk. She also writes a regular column for Living France magazine, in which she shares more tales from the Poitou-Charentes.

Customer Reviews

This is a great book that I would recommend to anyone looking for a fun read.
Jody Blaney
The characters were so funny and I felt myself warming to each and every one - I only hope we read more about them in her next book.
Christopher Yu
While trying to find love and balance in her new life, Karen is such a relateable character.
Lynda Coker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Yu on July 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Tout Sweet in one sitting. The book only arrived yesterday morning in the post and I have now in one and a half days come to the last page. The story was so charming and enchanting. It was the perfect antidote to this terrible summer in London, being able to escape in my head to idyllic France and into the world of the author.

The characters were so funny and I felt myself warming to each and every one - I only hope we read more about them in her next book.

Far less clichéd than Peter Mayle and the like, this is THE `moving to France' story for me. And with the author's sprinkling of glamour - this is my favourite `feel-good' book of 2009!
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Swissmiss on September 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this in one day staying up after midnight last night reading it. A lot of the Brits moving to France books seem to be written by men who are very sarcastic and condescending about everything and everybody they encounter so this book was a breath of fresh air. I hope there is a sequel so we know what happens next - with pictures of the house!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. Stout on November 16, 2009
Format: Paperback
While this book is primarily geared for the ladies, I found it to be a well written book and enjoyed it a great deal. I have read many books on living in France, and this one was not a disappointment. Yes, the romantic parts were not exactly my cup of tea, but the storyline and the characters were well done, and I look forward to a follow up. Would definitely recommend.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Luanne Ollivier TOP 500 REVIEWER on August 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
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.
Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Book of Secrets VINE VOICE on August 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
Tout Sweet: Hanging Up My High Heels for a New Life in France is Karen Wheeler's memoir about giving up city life in London for the French countryside. For many years, Karen had a successful career as a fashion editor. At 35, she had a glamorous life and the perfect man - Eric. But, when talk between them turned to marriage, Eric bolted.

So, a heartbroken Karen decides to give up it all up and move to a small village in France. She buys a house in serious need of renovations. (No indoor bathroom! No kitchen floor!) Along with the house comes an assortment of very colorful neighbors to keep her busy.

Memoirs are not my usual genre of choice, but what drew me to this book was the fantasy of moving someplace new and starting over, and this lucky woman was able to do it. For most people (like me), it's only a dream, so it was fun to live vicariously through Karen. I enjoyed the rich descriptions of the life in her village and its quirky inhabitants.

As much as I liked the subject, I had a difficult time getting into the story. It didn't grab my attention and pick up the pace until half way through. There were some references to British places that were lost on me (Marks & Spencer? I had to google it!) and plenty of French words and phrases, but that didn't bother me too much.

Karen's move to France wasn't just about a change of scenery. It was also about letting go of Eric and moving on from the heartache. It took her a long time to deal with her emotional baggage. One quote from the book that stuck with me was by her friend Dave:

"But you have to remember...that you can't run from unhappiness. You just take it with you."

I would recommend this book to fans of chick lit and fans of all things French. I give Tout Sweet 3 out of 5 stars.

SOURCE: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. Woodland TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
Wouldn't it be wonderful to just chuck it all? The 60 hour work week, the hustle, the bustle? Go live a simpler life out in the country?
Hmmm, this sounds familiar....
But instead of leaving NJ to go live on a goat farm in Montana Karen Wheeler leaves the fast paced life of London to renovate an old house in the countryside of France. I would love that...somewhere, lost in my addled brain is fluent French. *sigh* But the hubby...as I said, *sigh*. But back to the book.
I did enjoy this memoir of Ms. Wheeler's decision to up and leave her current life to start a simpler one in a new country. I can understand the desire but her motivation was different - her boyfriend of many years up and dumped her and she found herself in her mid thirties alone. On a whim while on a trip to France she bought a house in need of much, erm love.
The book chronicles the tale of her move, her renovation of the house and her quirky friends and neighbors. It is a fast and fun read. My only problem and it is probably generational as I am old (heh) is that I kept having to remind myself that Ms. Wheeler was 35 not 25. She just comes off as much younger. I suppose that is good in some ways but by 35 I had been married for 14 years and just about to face a major health crisis so my ability to relate was not as easy as it might be for the Ms. Wheeler's generation.
That being said I did find the book to be quite funny and I read it in one day. It is helpful to have a basic knowledge of British colloquialisms since the book is written by a Brit and a pinch of French helps as well. Most of the French phrases are translated but some are not. This is a perfect dreamer's book and aren't we all dreamers of some kind or another?
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