'(A) sparkling account...Robb cycled 14, 000 miles to bring his learning to life, which this book blissfully does.'
'A revealing biography of ordinary French citizens and a portrait of the world beyond Paris and the urban elite.' -- Time Out
'Captivatingly full of the author's own discoveries - exotic landscapes, weird customs, remarkable individuals and events overlooked by history' -- Guardian
'Engaging and lyrical... Gives voice to the France we have forgotten. Formidable.' -- Psychologies Magazine
'Full of amazing new facts, some horrific and some hilarious. A wonderful read.' -- The Guardian, Readers' Books of the Year
'Robb is a compellingly and hugely knowledgeable guide to a country that we only thought we knew.' -- London Review of Books
'Superlative history of la France profonde' -- Sunday Times 100 best holiday reads
'The most informative book I read was Graham Robb's brilliant, insanely compendious The Discovery of France.' -- Sean O'Brien, The Times Literary Supplement
'The search for an elusive `real' France haunted both natives and visitors throughout the 20th Century...' -- London Review of Books
'This is a vivid and indispensable book, so full of unexpected and wittily related treasures...' -- Daily Telegraph
It's easy to reduce France to the sum of its parts: weekend breaks amid the culture of Paris or summer holidays basking in the sunshine of the south; accounts of the Revolution -- Madame Defarge knitting beside the guillotine -- and Napoleon's battle at Waterloo (mis)remembered from school history lessons; a country famous for its intellectuals, its philosophers and writers, its fashion, food and wine. Despite this, however, the notion of 'the French' as one nation is relatively recent and -- historically speaking -- quite misleading; in order to discover the 'real' past of France, it's not only necessary to go back in time, but also to go at a slower pace than modern life generally allows: this book is the result of 14,000 miles covered by bicycle (and four years spent in the library). It is -- at last -- a book which tells the whole story. Praise for Robb's last novel, Strangers: Homosexual Love in the Nineteenth Century: Funny, enterprisingly researched, and undertaken with few apparent preconceptions . . This is an excellent, amusing, decent book, which covers an enormous amount of ground in a little space Philp Hensher, Spectator A fascinating study of a complex subject, written with humanity, sceptical intelligence and an impressive command of the sources Daily Telegraph A fascinating mix of personal testimony and judiciously filleted history The Times
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