This is part of my Summer Reads series where I’ll be reviewing a series of “not just cookbooks”.
Can’t get away this summer? Need a book (or, better, a series) that will sweep you away from your everyday Covid staying at home reality? I have just the thing for you in Summer Reads this week!
I first heard of author Karen Wheeler via her Tout Sweet series (chronicling her move from London where she was a fashion editor to rural France, touted as “perfect summer reading for anyone who dreams of chucking away their Blackberry in favour of real blackberrying and downshifting to France”) which were my perfect summer reads a few years ago – complete escapism and humour about trying to fit in and renovate a house in France.
A few years ago, Wheeler announced that she had moved to Devon where she appeared to be mad enough to want to do it all over again (relocate and renovate!). In December 2018, Wheeler released the first of a series of four e-books chronicling her move to England and in October 2019, the book was released as a stand-alone novel (e-book only). I read the four e-books as they were released and can recommend this one as your next summer read.
One woman, one dog… and a disastrous move to Devon. Throw in an estranged mother who has just been detained under the Mental Health Act and the result is a brilliantly written comic memoir with more ups and downs than the South West Coastal Path.
Previously published as the four-part mini-series, Dream Cottage: Four Seasons in Devon, this is not your usual tale of ‘I moved to a chocolate-box cottage by the sea and lived happily ever after’. Instead, it is a powerful and gripping story of relocation – and a mother-daughter relationship – gone wrong.
Fans of Karen Wheeler’s writing – and of Gail Honeyman’s Elinor Oliphant – will love this unforgettable, superbly written and ultimately life-affirming memoir. If you’ve ever dreamed of moving to Devon, with its beautiful coastline, quaint thatched cottages and stunning sunsets, here’s how not to do it…
So yes, while it’s a tale of renovating a bijou cottage (with all its pitfalls) it’s also about family and Wheeler’s complicated and difficult relationship with her mother (and father, to a certain extent), making it hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time. Some of the family storylines are hard (and sad) to read but the challenging family dynamics are balanced out by the cottage renovation storyline. Wheeler’s easy writing style makes it feel like she’s sitting across the kitchen counter from you telling you the stories over a glass or two of wine. It’s an easy, page-turning read that will transport you to the seaside for a day and wonder if you might like to renovate a sweet cottage by the sea someday (or, you know, learn from Wheeler’s lessons!).
Purchase Devon and Hell: Four Seasons by the Sea here (this link should bring you to the Amazon store geographically closest to you).
Please note: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. This post also contains affiliate links from The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!
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