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Son of Serge Bastarde: Mayhem in the Antiques Markets of Rural France Paperback – 4 Jun 2012
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"What a delight it is to be invited back into the world of Serge Bastarde -- now with an equally roguish son in tow. From cupboards that crunch in the night, to the reasons why French people love floral china, this book is full of warmth, humour and colourful characters. John Dummer gives us a real insider glimpse into the world of the French antique markets. Don't go near one until you've read this book first!"(Karen Wheeler - best-selling author of Tout Sweet, Tout Allure and Tout Soul.)
"An amusing and well-observed romp through the brocantes of South-West France inhabited by a host of colourful characters -- a must for lovers of all things French. Lovejoy for Francophiles!"(Marc Allum - specialist on the BBC's Antiques Roadshow.)
'I adore hunting through the French brocante markets and this book will certainly add a whole new dimension to the experience. An entertaining and enjoyable read for anyone interested in antiques or France.'(Judith Miller of Miller's Antiques Guides and Antiques Roadshow)
'This sequel to the entertaining Serge Bastarde Ate My Baguette details further havoc in the life of a travelling antiques dealer in rural France.'(The Bookseller)
'the latest addition to the Serge Bastarde series… profiling a quieter life in rural Francer, and the mischief that occurs on a scarily regular basis!… hilarious… '(St Christopher's Live Your Life e-zine)
'A light-hearted read that's perfect for summer, and for Francophiles, sequel to Serge Bastarde ate my Baguette. Antiques dealer Serge returns to his friends, this time with a new-found adult son. You know trouble's brewing when the narrator tell his wife, 'Trust me, I know what I'm doing… '(BritMag)
'… his second book about the likeable rogue, Serge Bastarde. This time we go behind the scenes of brocantes, meeting several delightful characters - all willing to slit each other's throats for that one unique item! The atmosphere of rural France is captured beautifully and this would be an excellent holiday read or gift.'(Living France)
'The combination of some of the real characters of the market - think Allo, Allo meets Steptoe - and a mix of Anglos looking to make some readies is a recipe for brilliant escapades in Place du Marchés all over the south of France.'(Connexions France)
'They are a quirky lot in France… life is never dull! And John Dummer's latest book is testament to that! Following on from the successful Serge Bastarde Ate My Baguette, it features Serge's bid to recover from a broken heart and the chaos which unfolds… It's a simple but hilarious tale.'(Burnley Express)
About the Author
Ex-blues drummer John Dummer has worked as a journalist, broadcaster, press officer and band manager. He lives in the Aquitaine region of France with his wife, Helen, and works as an antiques dealer.
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This book is much more of a personal recantation of his brocanting tales than Serge ate my baguette, however anybody who knows the real rural France will relate to most of the characters described – indeed they will know somebody just like them.
The pompous and obnoxious Algie scores two points on the SW France ‘Brit Bingo’ – the ponytail and the loud ‘posh’ voice in which he makes no attempt to effect French pronunciation. Likewise, John opines that as a drummer and writer he made a lousy builder, recanting his foray into roofing, plumbing and wiring – and that he did not want to be around when a professional electrician investigated his bodged work. Well, in SW France there are lots of Johns, who have bought some rundown barn or cottage with blue or red shutters, and have then attempted a DIY renovation (pity the poor next owner).
The same goes for a possible new and unwelcome neighbour – be it a proposed lottisement or a ‘goose farm’ as happened to a friend, or indeed the prevalence of manic driving. I could not understand at first why when I moved to very rural SW France from a wealthier and more densely populated area, my car insurance was 30% higher. No, it had nothing to do with car crime; it was because of the increased prevalence of claims. Most trips out in the car involves a ‘near miss’.
In summary, forget ‘A year in Provence’ or ‘A good year’, or any of these other romanticisms. If you want to know what life in real rural France is like, read John Drummer.
PS – thanks John, I did not know that Xyophene came in small aerosol cans!
There's a famous story that recounts Mike and Bernie Winters' first appearance at the notorious Glasgow Empire where, after Mike's introductory clarinet solo turn, Bernie pokes his head round the curtains, prompting an audience member to howl: "Oh Christ, there's two of them!"
That may well have been Dummer's unvoiced reaction to the appearance of Serge's indolent, rap culture-loving son, Didier. In fact though, it is Serge himself who continues to be the main pivot throughout a second volume of picaresque adventure, vivid characterisation and occasional, heart-quickening dodginess; a Runyonesque combination in which the narrator is similarly, repeatedly and unwittingly embroiled.
Unlike so many English scribblers, living the French dream, Dummer doesn't sit by the pool, happily ruminating on the discrepancy in property prices between the English home counties and south west France. He is there to make a living and however far you may buy into the stories, you can at least be sure they are based on a fund of first hand, real life experiences that may well be unique among expats. A genuinely different angle and a lot of laughs.
One can't but help comparing this to Dummer's first Serge Bastarde book where we were introduced to this archetypal lovable rogue who became Dummer's mentor in his adventures in the life of becoming a French brocanteur. In this sequel we meet the long lost son who is one of the most irritating and objectional characters one would be most unfortunate to come across. This father-son relationship meant a great deal to the writer and this second book is more personal, with many autobiographical references, than the first, his "Serge Bastarde ate My Baguette" which I enjoyed very much. The sequel follows the same form, a series of adventures involving the two Bastardes, and we do meet some very entertaining characters. My favourite being the old prostitute, and the chapter where Dummer and his wife meet her in her very eccentric world was the most engaging and the best written. I did miss the pure descriptive passages which made the first book more than a series of entertaining episodes. But then John Dummer knows how to tell a good story, and like so many good comedians, he is often landed with the short straw.
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This follow up did not disappoint.