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Talk To The Snail [Paperback]

Stephen Clarke
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
Price: 5.89 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

2 July 2007

Have you been taken to what you've been assured is the perfect house deep in the French countryside, only to find there's no electricity or running water? Gone to the doctor with a nasty cough, and been diagnosed with a rather more personal complaint? Walked into an half-empty restaurant, only to be told that it's complet?

If the answer to any of the above is oui, Talk to the Snail is the book for you.Find out how to get served in a restaurant; the best way to deal with French hypochondria; learn the language of love, sex and suppositories (not necessarily in that order); it's all here in this funny, informative, seriously useful guide on how to get what you really want from the French.

With advice on essential phrases and bons mots to cover all eventualities, and illustrated with witty real-life anecdotes, Talk to the Snail is a book that no self-respecting Francophile - or Francophobe - can afford to be without.

Don't go to France without reading this book.

And don't even think of buying a house there.

Frequently Bought Together

Talk To The Snail + A Year In The Merde + 1000 Years of Annoying the French
Price For All Three: 17.77

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan; New Ed edition (2 July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552773689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552773683
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,171 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:

Product Description


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

"Done more for the Entente Cordiale than any of our politicians" (Daily Mail)

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

"Clarke renders the flavor of life in Paris impeccably: the endless strikes, the sadistic receptionists, the crooked schemes by which the wealthy and well-connected land low-rent apartments... Clarke's eye for detail is terrific" (Washington Post)

"Call him the anti-Mayle. Stephen Clarke is acerbic, insulting, un-PC and mostly hilarious" (San Francisco Chronicle)

Book Description

From the bestselling author of A YEAR IN THE MERDE, the Ten Commandments for Living with the French

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good fun view of life in France 22 Sep 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've just finished reading this as well as A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi: The Ideal Guide to Sounding, Acting and Shrugging Like the French and The Secret Life of France. I would say these are all good books as they all amusing, insightful and thankfully free of dumbing down or stereotyping of the French. If you're trying to choose between them then here is a comparison:
1) A Certain Je Ne Sais Quoi: The Ideal Guide to Sounding, Acting and Shrugging Like the French: Arch and hilarious overview that covers a wide variety of subjects. Covers a bit more ground than 'Talk to the snail' and with a bit more experience.
2) The Secret Life of France: This delves a lot deeper than the other two and is also hilarious in parts. Combines biography with revealing insights into the French character. The only book which also covers the serious / negative side of life in France - racial tension etc. Also good if you plan to educate your children in France as it has some information about the education system, how kids behave etc.
3) Talk to the Snail: Very funny book written by a younger author than the other two, slightly less incisive and definitely written from a male perspective - so not many insights on the dating game for women in here. Still great fun - probably the best book for you if you are a young single guy going to France.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Right on the nose 27 Mar 2007
I've been in France since 1995, and have read almost every Anglophone book about the country. About 95% of them are full of clichés and not even funny. But Stephen's book is not only hilarious (I no longer care if Parisians stare at me when I'm laughing on the metro), it's also the most original critique I've read in a long time. I think it's also a fair book, because he makes as much fun of us English/Americans as he does the French. A great read!
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exploring the love/hate relationship 12 Oct 2006
Anyone familiar with A Year in the Merde or the author's follow-up book Merde Actually will have a rough idea of the style and content of Talk to The Snail. This time, rather than following the fortunes of Paul West, Stephen Clarke writes in his own name offering a wide range of advice on understanding the French.

Stephen Clarke takes the reader through eleven "commandments" such as Thou Shalt Not Work (the French addiction to the 4.5 day week and the public holiday) Thou Shalt Not be Served (why French waiters can be so difficult), and Thou Shalt be Ill (where Clarke writes about French hypochondria and gets in the inevitable references to suppositories). These commandments are all dealt with wittily of course, and anyone familiar with the country will recognise the traits and characteristice he describes.

Many people found the fictional Paul West so credible that they believed he really was a latter day Bryson, a real person writing about his real life, but in this volume, Stephen Clarke confirms that the earlier two books were novels rather than biography. However, the "voice" is the same, as is the enjoyment of the writing.

My only quibble is that I wonder if some of the French behaviours are Parisian rather than applying generally to the whole nation? I know from personal experience that the people of many areas of rural France are often polite, neighbourly and eager to help. However, let's not spoil a good diatribe with un-necessary altruism. The book is good natured throughout and I doubt the most patriotic French person would find much to complain about. This is another very humorous book from Clarke it is good to see the author step from behind the curtain of "Paul West". It will draw the reader from page to page as a light, refreshing read, a nicely presented harback book which would make an excellent gift for anyone who enjoys visiting France.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars hillarious 7 Feb 2011
By Nelly
although i was expecting novel (i didn't read what the book was about before purchase. I like stephen Clarke, and just trust the author!)
this is a mini guide of french life!
if you know a bit of both side (french or british), you will laugh, smile, giggle at every page as is really, truly picks on french habits!
i am french, believe me, that's what we're like!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By The Librarian VINE VOICE
This is not another volume in the Paul West series, but a very funny guide to the way the French think, and what it's like to live there amongst it all! Anyone who's spent any time will recognise the descriptions of bureaucracy, restaurant waiters - and of course French drivers!! However, as with all the best of this type of book, there is some practical info along with the mockery.
Great gift for a Francophile, but beware reading in a public place, as people will be staring at you while you snigger!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All completely true! 5 Nov 2006
Having lived in France for the last few months, I've come to view Stephen Clarke's book as much more than a set of humorous anecdotes about our closest neighbours. As well as being highly amusing, it's also completely true. I find myself consulting it when I need advice on how to approach a situation. The chapter about how to get things done in France is invaluable. The book functions on 2 levels: 1) an hilarious account of the habits and peculiarities of the French, and 2) an extremely useful guide on how best to understand the French and get things done when living in France.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This item was bought as a Christmas present for a friend.
Published 5 days ago by Mrs Gloria chittenden
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the best
Author is cool and humour in this book and i have been to Paris alot and love it but humour rare and author makes too many references to himself ..... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Michael Imms
3.0 out of 5 stars It's okay
I have read other books by Stephen Clark and this one appears to be a regurgitation of information already said in other books.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A very apt view of the French!
I really enjoy this book, having first seen it when working in France (i was passed it by a French friend) I was pleased to finally read it properly. Read more
Published 5 months ago by KB84
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect read to understanding French people
As a resident of France with not many years under the expat belt, this book went a long way to understanding many elements of the French way of life and the people. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Top read
Any brit who visits or lives in France should read this, well written and amusing, it gives you the inside info on WHY this happens and what you should never do THERE, etc...
Published 8 months ago by C. Comley
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk to the Snail - SDtephen Clarke
One of the many Stephen Clarke books with a French theme. This is one of the funniest with the exception of "1000 ways to annoy the French". A very good buy.
Published 10 months ago by John Stewart-Killick
5.0 out of 5 stars very funny, great book.
This book is fairly easy to read, very funny and apparently true take on the French and how to get around them! Great present that was much appreciated.
Published 10 months ago by Sophie
4.0 out of 5 stars Perfect snapshot of French bureaucracy.
Very funny, dry humour and critical observations of real life in urban and provincial France. Perfect holiday accompanyment for the intermediate French student.
Published 11 months ago by catresearch
5.0 out of 5 stars Sensass!
Stephen Clarke's description of typical French behaviour is both accurate and affectionate. I really liked the lists of vocabulary and useful expressions included in several... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Julie Ann Penner
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