There is so much to look forward to in the months ahead – to lengthening evenings, bike rides past fields of sunflowers or wild meadows of bluebells and poppies (just like the seventies Flake ad) and several months of fetes, vide greniers (car boot sales) and barbecues in friends’ gardens. And I cannot wait to get back to see if Andy Lawton has called…
After reaching the heights as a successful fashion editor, Karen said goodbye to all that and set about renovating a run-down house in rural Poitou-Charentes, in central western France, and living a simpler life. Her idyll is almost complete when she is blissfully ensconced in her fully plumbed, tiled, floored and ‘warm as the hug of a pashmina’ Maison Coquelicot – until, that is, a gang of macho Portuguese builders, a procession of Brits behaving badly and the ghosts of boyfriends past begin to arrive on her doorstep.
Karen soon finds her (dancing) feet in the small rural community when she discovers the key to acceptance is le danse country. And after a few shuffles and twirls she meets the love of her life – he has dark, shaggy hair, four paws and a wet nose…
Kathryn - 5 Star
Toute Allure started off a bit slowly for me and I was feeling a bit disappointed at the beginning but it actually didn’t take too long to get engrossed in the plot. I just had to grasp that the pace of the story was mirroring the pace of life in rural France- so the feeling of hazy summers with the sound of cicadas soon lulled me into the story and I settled in to a great read.Karen is lovely and natural and I warmed to her desire to bring her London life down a few notches by moving to the small French town. Her life is her own in that she can work (as a freelance journalist) when she needs to and pick up and visit friends or go for a walk when she wants to. Sounds pretty idyllic and I am a total sucker for that kind of lifestyle- who isn’t?
Wheeler also gave us many other characters to enjoy - from a quirky mayoress from a neighbouring town to a funny little dog who wins over our main character and basically takes over her life and the story! I appreciated every supporting character, they all had a purpose in the storyline and in setting the scene and I laughed out loud more than once.
As I mentioned earlier I found myself sinking in to the feeling of being in rural France based on Wheeler descriptions of smells and sounds- she has a wonderful ability to bring out the senses through her words without being heavy handed with description. Impressive as I haven’t been to France since I was ten!
This is the sequel to Wheeler’s Tout Sweet and although this novel can stand alone I’d still like to the read the first one!