A Year in the Merde

A Year in the Merde

Book - 2005
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An urban antidote to A Year in Provence, Stephen Clarke's book is a laugh-out-loud account of a year in the life of an expat in Paris-for Francophiles and Francophobes alike.

A Year in the Merde is the almost-true account of the author's adventures as an expat in Paris. Based on his own experiences and with names changed to "avoid embarrassment, possible legal action-and to prevent the author's legs being broken by someone in a Yves Saint Laurent suit", the book is narrated by Paul West, a twenty-seven-year-old Brit who is brought to Paris by a French company to open a chain of British "tea rooms." He must manage of a group of lazy, grumbling French employees, maneuver around a treacherous Parisian boss, while lucking into a succession of lusty girlfriends (one of whom happens to be the boss's morally challenged daughter). He soon becomes immersed in the contradictions of French culture: the French are not all cheese-eating surrender monkeys, though they do eat a lot of smelly cheese, and they are still in shock at being stupid enough to sell Louisiana, thus losing the chance to make French the global language. The book will also tell you how to get the best out of the grumpiest Parisian waiter, how to survive a French business meeting, and how not to buy a house in the French countryside.

The author originally wrote A Year in the Merde just for fun and self-published it in France in an English-language edition. Weeks later, it had become a word-of-mouth hit for expats and the French alike. With translation rights now sold in eleven countries and already a bestseller in the UK and France, Stephen Clarke is clearly a Bill Bryson (or a Peter Mayle...) for a whole new generation of readers who can never quite decide whether they love-or love to hate-the French.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury, 2005, c2004
ISBN: 9781582345918
Characteristics: 276 p


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Nov 04, 2013

Not as funny as I was expecting. I was amused more than anything else, and the author's obsession with getting lucky can be a bit tedious at times.

JewelMcLatchy Jan 21, 2013

Hilarious view of Franco-Anglo relations and stereotypes. Will be best understood by bilingual readers in order to get the full extent of the butchering of both languages. Laughed out loud almost every other page.

Nov 24, 2012

I wish I read this before I went to Paris. Many funny moments - but too much focus on his sex life.

May 23, 2012

The 1st half of the book was very well-written and funny, the type of writing that you want to read again.
Then, then the plot in the 2nd half peters out; it's as if the author became bored with the subject or developed writer's block. For example, readers have to read 3 pages of the main character getting a prescription from a hospital...boring!!
Overall, I really enjoyed it though.

Apr 27, 2012

I loved this book. I found it hilarious and engaging. Great read.

lorenta79 Apr 03, 2012

loved it, often laughed out loud! I read it before I went to spend 3 months in Paris.

Oct 01, 2011

Brit Paul West is hired by a French firm to develop an authentic English tea house chain. He moves to Paris and finds himself almost immediately struggling to fit in to to the City of Lights. Author Stephan Clark has created a laugh out loud piece of fiction that is so worth reading.

Sep 25, 2011

Definitely the funniest take on the Anglo-Franco mutual antagonism I've come across in some time...The French come across rather badly, but then again so does the book's fearless "hero", who is a self-absorbed, judgmental twit- a pretty decent stand-in for the more obnoxious style of Londoner, frankly, so all's fair in love and merde!

Apr 10, 2011

This book was hilariously funny and had me laughing all the way through! The french accents of Paul's lazy coworkers were written in a very humorous way (in particular, I had fun imagining the accent of the guy who learned his English in the state of Georgia) and Paul's screw-ups and misunderstandings were so amusing. I makes me look forward to my trip to France, although hopefully there won't be as many strikes as there are in the book!

Mar 07, 2011

Very good book from the perspective of an Englishman in Paris. Quite funny.

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JewelMcLatchy Jan 23, 2013

Bernard smiled nervously and began. "Yam bare narr, yam responsa bull ov communika syon, er..." Shit, I thought, didn't Jean-Marie say the meeting was going to be in English? How come some people were allowed to speak Hungarian? Bernard of Budapest carried on in the same incomprehensible vein for a couple of minutes and then started to enunciate something that, to judge by the look of acute constipation on his face, was of great importance. "Alok for wah toowa king wizioo." Hang on, I thought. I don't speak any central European languages, but I got that. He's looking forward to working with me. Holy Babel fish. It's English, Jim, but not as we know it.

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