“An hilarious account of a fashion guru who swaps Prada for paintbrushes and Pineau in rural France.”


A very fresh and edifying memoir, Karen Wheeler presents an account of converting from a privileged but vacuous existence in London,England to a robust life in Villiers, France. A devastating breakup with a Gallic boyfriend served as a catalyst for her move.

When she arrives in France, demons from her breakup frequently confront her, making the move even more laborious. Plus, her home Maison Coquelicot (“house of the wild poppy”), stands in urgent need of repair.

It takes a full two years after she signs the deed for the house to reach a habitable state. In those two years, she fortifies valuable friendships, loses a meaningful friendship and ignites futile attempts at love affairs.

When she notices budding hyacinths, she decides to buy an instant garden to place into terracotta pots and in the stone flowerbed. “Two deep blue hydrangeas, two jasmine plants, a purple hibiscus, and half a dozen velvety red rose bushes-all of them in full bloom…

I have never been remotely interested in garden centers before but now I have outdoor space, I am smitten” (Wheeler 183). The garden also serves as an al fresco dining area. On Christmas Day, she invites a quintet of friends for drinks and a meal. Her house serves as the setting for a charming holiday. The memoir concludes with 313 pages and 22 chapters of gloriousness.


Reviewed by:

Karah Khalia

Added 7th October 2015

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Karah Khalia