Blogger and fashion editor Karen Wheeler has written an entertaining account of her spontaneous decision to move from London to the French countryside. She intends not just to renovate her falling apart home but her falling apart life. I found Wheeler's writing style very engaging as we follow her adventures navigating small town life and language, all with aplomb. She is honest about the highs and lows, particularly her relationships with new friends (you couldn't make up these characters). There was an odd side story involving one a disagreement with one of her crew that was never fully resolved and I can't help but wonder at what really happened, I found its inclusion curious. Other than that I fell in love with the little details, the day-to-day - walking to the market, the boulangerie, and the bookstore seem so much grander (and possible) in France. Wheeler's story doesn't end here...there is a sequel, already published overseas and available used on amazon called Toute Allure and a third book Tout Soul coming out this year. There is also her blog http://www.toutsweet.net.
thank you to sourcebooks for providing the review copy
Less the foodie memoir I anticipated, and more about the science of smell, which it turns out is FASCINATING. Sometimes the science-y statistics can ruin books for me, but not in this case. Birnbaum knits together her narrative with visits to the smell clinic and flavor factory (where it seems all food develops its synthetic flavoring - yikes). I am always drawn to stories where the determined course appears fixed until something (tiny, or in this case near tragic) steers it in an altogether different direction. I obvioulsy knew of the link between smell and taste, as does anyone who has ever had a nasty head cold, but had not thought of the long term implications of losing one of those senses. Not to mention the association of scent and memory - our mother's perfume, best friend's house, freshly laundered sheets, the change of seasons, new baby. What about all the dangerous smells - like rotten food ? Crazy, right? So of course, I led our family on a hold your nose while you eat this experiment. And it rocked our world a bit. If you are even a little curious, I recommend Season to Taste for skillfully combining personal and factual into a recipe for readable.
thank you to HarperCollins for providing review copy