As an avid reader, there's nothing I enjoy more than a good travel memoir. You know the kind - Mary travels to Italy, falls in love and then becomes torn between staying and returning home. Or Bill and Sue, having become besotted with France on previous trips, buy a little place which they renovate and rent out to holiday makers.
There are literally hundreds of these kinds of books on the market, many of which tell the tales of British ex-pats moving to their little piece of Europe, but more and more Aussies are joining the bookstore shelves with their own stories.
One of the things I find most appealing about these travel memoirs is that most of the authors aren't trained writers - they're just average people who have a good story to tell. You can really get a sense of the trials and tribulations they face as they lead you through their life in a new land. Language barriers and red-tape are often the things that cause the most grief, with most agreeing it's not always easy to become a part of a new village or city.
Having read dozens (and dozens!) of travel memoirs, there are plenty I can recommend and I'll be adding my thoughts on various books in the future. I recently read Englishwoman Karen Wheeler's "Tout Sweet - Hanging up my High Heels for a New Life in France". In her mid-30s, Wheeler decides to take stock of her life when her boyfriend leaves, and gives up her job as fashion editor in London for a new life in rural France.
Predictably, buying a house, moving across the Channel and integrating herself into a new community, throw up plenty of challenges for Wheeler - and her Prada handbag and Manolos just don't seem to blend in! But, as is so often the case, she comes to realise that it's the simple things in life that are what life's all about.
As the blurb on the back of the book says, this book is "perfect reading for anyone who dreams of chucking away their BlackBerry in favour of real blackberrying and downshifting to France."
Having enjoyed the book so much, I'm currently reading Wheeler's next instalment of her new life in France, "Tout Allure - Falling in Love in Rural France".
Love reading? You might also enjoy this article about more great European travel memoirs from Australian authors.
Do you enjoy reading travel memoirs? Which books have you enjoyed most?