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An Englishman In Paris: L'education Continentale Paperback – 3 Mar 2003
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A wonderfully warm and witty love letter to one of the world's great cities. Peter Mayle, author of A YEAR IN PROVENCE, writes in his Preface to this charming travel memoir: 'Michael Sadler was born in Lewes, a small town in the south of England. This was a geographical accident. He should have emerged from the womb in Paris, looking anxiously about him for a suitable place to have lunch.' He may not have been born there, but Michael Sadler eventually found his spiritual home. AN ENGLISHMAN IN PARIS is his delightful account of his first year in the French capital, describing with alternate affection and bemusement such continental confusions as the etiquette of flower-buying, the role of cricket in French foreplay, and the dangers 'black butter' presents not just to one's cholesterol levels but also to dry-cleaning bills. Beautifully observed and very funny, AN ENGLISHMAN IN PARIS will delight armchair travellers and Francophiles alike.
About the Author
Michael Sadler is a writer and academic. Born in Lewes, he now lives in Paris, where he teaches an MA course in Contemporary French Studies at the British Institute. He is married with one daughter and grows his own leeks.
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According to the book's back flap, Sadler now lives in Paris and Touraine with his French wife and their daughter. There's no time frame to AN ENGLISHMAN IN PARIS, but I gather that it recalls Michael's experience as a younger and still-single man during his first extended trip to Paris from his home in England.
Sadler's narrative contains some decidedly humorous moments, as when he transports a large wheel of odiferous cheese from point A to B. Or when he makes his first tremulous journey through that chaotic maelstrom of traffic known as the Place de l'Etoile. And when he must transfer his belongings from temporary hotel lodgings to a new apartment, and there's nowhere to park in front of the latter. Or his culinary introduction to such delicacies as beef testicles and pigs ears. Then there's his giddy affair with a married French woman.
Compared to Peter's volumes, however, Sadler isn't quite so relaxed. Perhaps it's the abundant energy and hormones of a younger man. At times, Michael's activities seem positively frenetic. Moreover, he introduces into the text many French phrases and sentences, the translations of which aren't always readily apparent as you read them, if at all. To be fair, there is a 5-page glossary of terms and colloquial expressions at the end. Language aside, chapter 28 is entirely incoherent (by design, I assume) - as if he was writing under the influence of some cooking sauce made with hallucinogenic mushrooms.
AN ENGLISHMAN IN PARIS is short - only 193 pages in a small hardcover format. Reading the book doesn't require a large investment of time. But, if you want something more satisfying about life as a foreigner in France, go first with Mayle.
The hero goes to Paris to study French live (or that is the official excuse to get out of his colleague's way) and in this book he delivers his observations and funny anecdotes (when he treads into the traps of don't-s English people tend to tread into in France). Anecdotes rather than a coherent story with one big climax at the end. All delivered from a humourus angle.
I have moved from Paris to London three and a half years ago. I have read many books of English people living in France. All funny in their own way, but this one is my favourite. Observations rather than prejudices. The descriptions of live and people in Paris are so accurate that for as long as i was reading it, it cured my chronic homesickness. It is like a journey home to Paris!
Only critique: interwoven in the text are many French phrases. While I enjoy that (because I understand them), a footnote for non-French-speakers would have been good rather than having to flick to the back of the book and trying to find it.
It is on my Christmas gift's list for all friends and relatives abroad (outside of France that is). Highly recommended for anyone who wants to read about real live in Paris rather than prejudices wrapped in humour.
Thank you Michael Sadler for this great book about live in my beloved city!
Quite enjoyable but hardly side-splitting.
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