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moving on

December 27, 2011

KW%20portraits-L_020030.jpgNot me, I hasten to add but the proprietors of La Grande Galerie in Civray.

When Eileen phoned me a month ago to say that she and Wally were about to retire, had sold the gallery and would be moving over 150 kilometres south by the end of the year, I must confess that I felt very sad.

In the GG, they have created a wonderful little arts hub, displaying and promoting the work of local artists and crafts people and hosting book launches (including mine) as well as art classes, writing groups, charity events and wine tastings.

They have fostered an extended creative family in the most unlikely of places – a hidden square in the market town of Civray.

I owe them a great debt of gratitude, for all their support and enthusiasm for my books. They have sold dozens of copies of Tout Sweet and Toute Allure at the GG and in addition, passed on clippings from US newspapers and magazines and come up with many useful suggestions for promoting the books.

I have also been able to count on them for an excellent dog sitting service.

Things did not get off to a great start, as Biff and their dog Glen (a little rescue dog with springs in his paws) took an instant dislike to each other.

I still chuckle at the memory. It was January 2009 and France, like the UK, was snowbound with all Eurostars and flights cancelled. The local roads were dire – but I had to get back to the UK to give a talk.

It took me a few attempts before I made it to Civray, driving at 20 kilometres an hour through a strangely calm and icy white landscape.

As I handed over Biff, both dogs reared up on their hind legs, snarling and baring their teeth. A diminutive, and elegantly-dressed figure stood in the snow, holding on to each of them –and Biff's doughnut bed – unfazed and smiling.

'Off you go,' she said. 'Have a marvellous time. They will be absolutely fine.'

I had my doubts. As I walked away to the sound of ferocious growling, I was impressed by her positive attitude but felt guilty for leaving the doyenne of the GG to cope with a potential bloodbath.

I needn't have worried. By the time I got back, Biff and Glen were the best of friends and sleeping in the same basket.

It was always a pleasure to see Wally and Eileen and we were always made to feel welcome. Had the GG been on my doorstep, I would have been there every single day.

I'd like to thank Eileen and Wally and congratulate them on making such a success of the GG, thereby enhancing the lives of many locals.

I wish them lots of happiness in their new home and hope that it is not so much Au revoir as A bientot.

Meanwhile, I can't wait to meet the new owners – from Australia – and wish them every success with the GG.

comments (9)

1. Posted by Rosie Luchini on December 27, 2011 2:17 PM

Like you, we will be sorry to say au revoir to Wally and Eileen: we've enjoyed their warm welcome at the GG on a number of occasions. We wish them every happiness as they move on to Cognac with Glen, and we hope, too, that the GG goes from strength to strength and builds on the wonderful foundation they've created for it.

2. Posted by Jennifer Finney on December 27, 2011 4:59 PM

Such a warm and friendly couple, especially Eileen who was my own personal information guru and she never let me down.
I hope it won't be too long before we go for a little stay with them. I would like to wish the new owners G'day and hope they will be very happy at La Grande Gallerie and can't wait to see how they progress with what is now theirs....

3. Posted by mimi pompom on December 27, 2011 6:03 PM

Yes, me too. I'd like to wish them G'day – hope they are settling in well – and can't wait to meet then when the GG opens in the New Year. And of course, we all wish them very good luck with their new life in France (and hope they are adjusting to the weather ;-)

4. Posted by Anna on December 28, 2011 2:25 AM

Eileen and Wally sound like a very lovely couple. Best of luck to them.

On a side note, is this picture a view from your window? It's beautiful!!!

5. Posted by mimi pompom on December 28, 2011 9:08 AM

Hi Anna,

thanks for posting comments. Yes, that's the view of the courtyard from my kitchen window.

all best

Karen x

6. Posted by Lyst on January 16, 2012 7:54 AM

HNY Karen, have heard that the sale of Grand Galerie has fallen through. Is it true?

7. Posted by Angela on January 29, 2012 10:43 PM

Missing you Karen, hope all is ok.

8. Posted by katie on March 12, 2012 8:40 PM

near the end of the new book Tout Soul....cant believe it. I never read books normally...but yours are just so great..Its only taken a novice reader 2 days to read it all as I am totally hooked on your books.
I just can feel your thoughts...I also know the area well and Ihave so many special memories and can envisage all the scenes portrayed....please excuse my spellings.
Anyway, reading through the last few chapters..I had tears rolling down my cheeks...All my family asleep in bed and I am still hooked reading this book..infact I will have to re read tonight the last few chapters as I was engrossed and overwhelmed . I need to take it all in properly.

Karen you are brilliant writer in my eyes.
Take care...and a big thankyou for making me read.It takes me away from a hectic world in the uk...work work ...better than any film or relaxation

9. Posted by Sue on October 1, 2013 7:23 PM

Karen, am in SW Florida on hols. Kept Tout Soul til I got away but couldn't put it down. Sat in bed last night with tears rolling down my face. I did hear that Luis had died but your writing of it made so touching and poignant. Please accept my condolences and hurry up and write another. I adore your books. Love to you and Biff.

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