HO LETTO… “A Year In the Merde”

by valentinalucia

"A Year in the Merde" by Stephen Clarke

After finishing Stephen Clarke’s A Year in the Merde last week, I found myself thinking differently about the French – yet still snickering silently to myself about them and their funny-French ways. Clarke’s incredibly witty and honest story following his alter ego, Paul West, provides readers with an insightful and comic account of life in France for a typical Brit.

Paul West is hired by a French company to start a chain of British tea rooms, and this is when his eye-opening ride begins as he goes to live and love in Paris. West quickly realizes that French culture is very different than that of England – when work is scheduled to being at 9 A.M. that’s code for work is scheduled to begin sometime after 9 A.M., the way to earn people’s respect is to be as nonchalantly disrespectful as possible, and the only way to get things done is to play the game of the French as if you were a Parisian native. He also is schooled in the ways of French women, learning how to woo the native ladies and how not to woo them (hint: don’t take a pretty French girl out on a date and wake up the next morning with a different pretty French girl, oblivious to where the first pretty French girl has disappeared to).

This novel is a gem amongst lengthy travel books of its kind. Combining shocking and interesting first-hand experiences with laugh-out-loud humor, Clarke has created a story that anyone can enjoy – no matter if you love or hate the French. Who knows? This book may even change your perspective of French culture, or maybe even help you learn a word or two of the language. If nothing, you’ll learn how to get an overworked French waiter to give you exactly what you ordered in a quick and timely manner.