Tout Soul - Karen Wheeler (2012)

Karen Wheeler hung up her high heels for a life in rural France five years ago and through her journey she has encountered many wonderful characters and has had many memorable experiences. In her third memoir about life in France, Karen finds herself coming home from a work trip to a new beginning - one that she wasn't expecting. As she tries to make her way through the following months, she gets a new neighbour, has a few suitors and attempts to find happiness in the smallest of things. But when tragedy strikes at the heart of her life, Karen realises what is truly important to her and how life can change in the blink of an eye. Written as usual with an amazing amount of charm and elegance, Karen makes even the smallest of things seem wonderful and alive with her words. Though the book is a bit sad in parts - no doubt you'll need the tissues - it's also a wonderful testament to how life should be lived, which is with no regrets and a lot of happiness. A must-read as once again Karen makes readers see the positive in the negative and shows that happiness can be found in the smallest of things. (AS)

Toute Allure - Karen Wheeler (2010)

Karen Wheeler is back for the second time with more of her adventures in rural France. Leaving her lush job in London for a peaceful existence in France has had its ups and downs, however, Karen is happy with her new life overall. That all changes when one day she wakes to some rowdy new Portuguese neighbours who have no problem blasting their music all day and night. Karen is also dealing with the fact that she's found love but her heart isn't beating faster for a man - at least not yet. Karen has fallen in love with a little black dog named Biff, who belongs to her friend, Sarah. While trying to focus on her work with all the noise and also enjoy herself with her new line-dancing friends, she is also trying to find ways to see Biff more often. Sarah lets Biff stay over at Karen's house or lets Karen walk him. But it's not enough, Karen wants this little furball all to herself. When she's let down by her boyfriend, who she was very serious about, Karen begins to think it's best to go back to her old life. But does she really wants to leave France and return to the hectic pace of London life? Written once again with vast amounts of humour and heart, this is a book that readers will enjoy to the very last page. (AS)

Tout Sweet - Karen Wheeler (2009)

While visiting a friend in rural France, fashion and beauty journalist Karen Wheeler stumbles upon a small cottage that is for sale and in need of quite a bit of TLC. The thought of giving up her lush life in London and starting over in France is too much to pass up, so Karen buys the house on a whim after seeing it only once. She waits a year to move in, during which she has a falling-out with her only friend in France. Having no experience with house renovation, Karen stumbles through the DIY process while staying with a couple of new-found friends who own a bookshop in town (luckily, people in rural France seem very friendly and helpful). When she feels she has overstayed her welcome, she moves into a small motel until she can make at least one room in her new home inhabitable. Karen made such a big change in her life partly due to the end of her relationship with her long-time boyfriend, Eric. Now, the chances of her finding another man are slim - some of her suitors range from being married to being completely deranged. Besides the renovations (which can sometimes be quite hilarious as things inevitably go wrong) and the occasional dinner at a friend's house, Karen enjoys seeing what her village has to offer. Vividly written - so much so that you can picture yourself in Karen's shoes, standing in the market square surrounded by the loud chatter of the locals and the fragrant aroma of freshly baked bread. It is written as if it is being told to you by an old friend, and it's bursting at the seams with humour, adventure and an authentic voice in reality chick lit. A wonderful and inspiring read for anyone who craves a little change in their life but can't bring themselves to make it. After reading Karen's story you may just be brave enough to go ahead. (AS)

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