She has a series of books, 17 of them now, with straightforward names like France Hotels or Tuscany & Umbria, that are all part of her Exceptional Places to Stay & Itineraries series. I first discovered them when I was living in Paris in the early 90′s, and wanted small, charming places to stay on our weekend jaunts.
She has never once let me down.
Karen Brown introduced me to the Colombe d’Or in St. Paul de Vence in the south of France, which to me is still one of the most amazing places in the world to stay. Part art museum, part gourmet relais, it is historical, charming and beautiful all at once.
She is the one who pointed me to Villa Beccaris in the Piedmont region of Italy, where my husband and I honeymooned, and it was, in a word, perfect.
Her books have even guided us to charming inns in the United States, like the unforgettable Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusetts (where we had the best lobster I have ever eaten, hands down) , and several other small hotels in the same area, whenever I wanted a weekend getaway.
I have about 7 of her books, and they are all dogeared and underlined to within an inch of their lives, and they are the first thing I pack when I am about to move. I have never planned a trip anywhere without first checking to see if she has a book about it, and if she does, it becomes my bible.
The really odd thing is, when I was at my high school reunion last fall, I was talking with one of my friends about what he was doing, where he was living and such, and it turns out he is married to Karen Brown! He could have told me was married to Mick Jagger or Cheryl Crow and I would not have been more excited.
So, when we were touring around looking for a place to live this summer (her books in my suitcase, as always), we met up with my friend and the lovely Karen Brown herself for breakfast at the Seal Cove Inn, which she and her husband once owned. She was as wonderful as I thought she would be-warm, funny, pretty, smart, and kind.
I bet she had been a hell of an innkeeper.
Karen Brown now has a website, karenbrown.com, which is helpful and quite extensive. But I think she could have, should have a TV channel of her own, or at least a TV show of some kind. She has made my life so much richer.
I mean if Martha and Oprah and Rachel Ray can do it, she certainly could.