I read a lot of books. Some are part of my Amazon Vine gig. Some are research for whatever my current WIP. Some are just for fun.
Sometimes I stumble onto a real gem. That’s what I found in aspiring new author, Catherine Larose’s new memoir (or ‘femoir’ as Cat calls it) Any Color But Beige (2011). This 216-page romp through the international world of singles is the essential how-to book on dating after a divorce. Told with her fresh, delightful and humorous voice, Cat fills the pages with fast-paced intercontinental action interleaved with the sage advice of a well-grounded hard-working businesswoman raised by a large Italian family and nurtured by a life filled with good friends. You’ll want to curl into an easy chair with this book, a cup of tea at your elbow, as you clatter through the eccentric experiences that shape Cat into that girl friend you always wanted around because you never knew what she would do.
Cat learned growing up that it was always smart to approach every experience with an open mind, embrace whatever life threw at her, and believe that as long as she was alive, she was never quite done. The challenges start when she finds herself in a marriage that can only be described as the round hole of her creative, clever brain in the square peg of a man who valued conformity, rules and predictability. She attempts to make it work, trying to convince herself that life is meant to be dull, drab and predictable (think beige), but finally throws her hands up in defeat and begins an exotic life filled with jet-setting experiences you and I only dream of living (think awash in color–her favorite being red). This change is enabled when Cat takes a job as an international color-marketing consultant. You know those little paint chips in hardware stores? Cat markets those. As she travels the world, schooling clients in color strategies, giving the reader hints about how to decorate their lives (‘paint your room like your man’, and ‘most people dress the colors of their house’). she meets an international banquet of single men.
That is the meat of the book–Cat’s dating experiences across national lines, across continents, across cultures as she redecorates her world in the vibrant tones of Italy, France, South Africa–wherever her job takes her–with an international boyfriend in every port.
I caught a glimpse of the boy and the man he became, the culture that formed him and continues to shape him…
As Cat zips through worldwide relationships, always up-beat, often throwing in touches of French to make the story more effervescent, the reader sprints along at her side. In the words of one close friend:
You’re a real woman, with a real job, and you live in the real world… If you didn’t exist, I’d have to invent you.
When you finish the book, you can follow Cat’s real-time experiences on her blog, Cafe Girl Chronicles where she posts ‘mostly true stories of life, love, lust and longing’. Here, she shares the excitement of whatever international city she happens to be in at the moment. Since I ‘met’ Cat, I feel like a world traveler with the insider knowledge to prove it. My question for Cat is: When’s the sequel? Do you marry any of the amazing men you date?