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A Year In The Merde Paperback – 1 Apr 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (1 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552772968
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552772969
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 27,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen Clarke lives in Paris, where he divides his time between writing and not writing. His first novel, A Year in the Merde, originally became a word-of-mouth hit in 2004, and is now published all over the world. Since then he has published three more bestselling Merde novels, as well as Talk to the Snail, an indispensable guide to understanding the French. Research for Stephen's novels has taken him all over France and America. For 1000 Years of Annoying the French, he has also been breathing the chill air of ruined castles and deserted battlefields, leafing through dusty chronicles, brushing up the medieval French he studied at university and generally losing himself in the mists of history. He has now returned to present-day Paris, and is doing his best to live the entente cordiale. For more information about Stephen Clarke and his books, visit his website: www.stephenclarkewriter.com.

Product Description

Review

"Edgier than Bryson, hits harder than Mayle" (The Times)

"Must have comedy-of-errors diary about being a Brit abroad" (Daily Mirror)

"This is the season's word-of-mouth must-have book for Francophiles and Francophobes alike... This comedy of errors has almost certainly done more for the Entente Cordiale than any of our politicians" (Daily Mail)

Book Description

Self-published in France, and a subsequent bestseller, the hilarious story of a year in the life of a young Englishman abroad.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Shouna Falconer on 17 May 2011
Format: Paperback
This book has been constantly compared with the works of Bill Bryson and Peter Mayle, the latter being the author of "A Year in Provence". I haven't read either of these, but I have read "Driving Over Lemons" and I would place this "Merde" book ahead of it.

However such comparisons aren't really relevant since this book is very much a work of fiction. To read it is to meet Paul West, an arrogant prat with few redeeming features, a protagonist who, when it comes down to it, is just plain dull.

The book's main problem is that while it is very funny in places, the author only seems to have one kind of humour at his disposal and it wears thin after a while. But for the reader who can look beyond this, a reasonably entertaining read awaits. Paul's journey from one catastrophe to the next as he tries to avoid both the excrement on the pavements of Paris as well as its metaphorical equivalent is strangely compelling. The phonetic renderings of Parisians attempts to pronounce English words are particularly clever. After a while it's easy to slip into it and join the main character in a race to work it out. It's not a book to be taken too seriously.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SAP VINE VOICE on 5 May 2005
Format: Paperback
Amusing in parts -- it certainly raised a smile in each chapter -- this book may be, but for my liking it was a little hit-and-miss. The chapters are broken up into sections of a few sides each, which gives the book a bit of a staccato feel -- like a series of anecdotes and amusing observations. Clarke doesn't have the storytelling abilities or buffoonery of Bryson -- I know, give him time, this is his first book -- or the dry wit and cynicism of Tim Moore, but he certainly has a style all of his own.

Despite the laughs at the expense of the French this is an affectionate look at France and the French (or Paris and the Parisians) from the eyes of an Englishman who, on returning to Blighty, realises just how much it has changed him. This book is really worth more than three stars, but not quite four.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Y. Ker on 16 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
I read this book whilst meeting up with some friends in Paris. It was okay, well, it was funny I guess. But after the initial "oh yes, that's true", and "oh look, I've been there," I realised that perhaps the narrator isn't as funny as he seems to think that he is, as he then proceeds to annoy me ever so slightly in his very set, stubborn and boring ways. I enjoyed this book like one would enjoy a light-hearted book. It was easy, nothing remarkable at all, and does not require much thought. It wasn't so much the stereotyping that annoys me since all travel writing involves some of that. Bill Bryson, who I love, when writing about his stay in Copenhagan, writes, "the Danes" many times. The generalisation cannot be helped as it is not easy to get into the culture and get to know many people and get a sense of the diversity when one is on a short stay. But the narrator in this book is not on a short stay. He is suppose to be working in Paris for one year.

No wonder he has such a hard time. He seems to point-blank refuse to try and improve his language and in so doing help himself to get around better. He is very often arrogant, smug and forming opinions of that of someone so narrow-minded that he really shouldn't be travelling and expecting to enjoy the experience, if he is so set in his ways and refuses to adapt in even the slightest degree. I know that Paris can be chaotic and what he experiences, especially strikes, are very true to life. But he seems to be the kind of travellers with such a mentality as to never doing another country justice even if he does not encounter as many problems as he has.

I enjoyed this book as much as one would an airport fiction. It is on its way to the charity shop now that I am done with it, hopefully the next person would get more of a laugh out of it.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Soilman on 7 Oct. 2005
Format: Paperback
Well, it's very funny. And I didn't want to find it funny. Reason: I've lived in France, and expected this to be the usual lame collection of stereotypes and dull anecdotes masquerading as original lampoon/satire. There are a few clichés, but Clarke is a talented writer and he disguises them well. Plus there's enough authentic observation of national characteristics to keep the thing moving along nicely, and to provoke some nice belly laughs. Moreover, there's a jolly storyline that keeps you gagging for more.
Clarke's no Bryson, but that's OK. This is a good read and a lot of fun. If you know a bit about France - and especially if you've worked there - you'll guffaw lavishly.
PS If you've ever wondered why France has one of Europe's highest rates of unemployment and a sloth-like economy, this book explains everything. And on this score, it's totally accurate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Captain EO on 4 Nov. 2008
Format: Paperback
I thought I'd give this a read as it appeared to be a light-hearted, short, "comedy" novel set in a country I've enjoyed many a visit to. I guess after reading it, it proved to be exactly what I expected although it didn't really hit the spot with me.

I can't help but think that in today's market there are just too many average books out there. Ok, it's certainly not a bad read & I'm sure the author is well-placed to base a whole book (and indeed sequels) on the differences bewteen French & English cultures but there's just nothing particularly clever, funny or indeed original about it.

With just a little more talent & desire, I'm sure there's thousands of us who could sit down and sketch out the overall plot of a book such as this and then get down to writing 300 well-spaced pages about an unsuspecting "hero".

All-in-all I wouldn't particularly recommend this unless you were a Brit-in-France or managed to pick it up in the bargain-bin of your local bookstore. Far better stuff out there.
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