- 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: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Year In The Merde Paperback – 1 Apr 2005
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"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)
Self-published in France, and a subsequent bestseller, the hilarious story of a year in the life of a young Englishman abroad.See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
It chronicles the story of a young Englishman who takes a job in Paris with a French firm. It is about working, living and finding love in Paris.
Like the writer I live and work in France and I recognise many of the situations he describes. As it can be hard to get to grips with the differences in culture, France eventually changes you and you can’t but help falling in love with the place despite its failings. This is a light hearted, easy read and shouldn’t be taken too serious. I loved it.
The book follows the ups and downs of an Englishman (Paul West) who moves to Paris to try and launch a chain of English tea shops at a time when the French are still aghast at the British BSE crisis and Blair and Chirac are at each others throats over the impending war in Iraq. The book is laced with over the top French stereotypes of tube strikes, waiter strikes and pharmacist strikes, not to mention pongy cheeses and Parisians shrugging a lot (seriously: it happens every single chapter!).
Granted, there are *some* laugh-out-loud moments during the book; particularly in the beginning when Paul `Vest' is trying to decipher his French-speaking colleague's poor attempts at English, and again when he's trying to convince them to try English `cuisine'. A lot if the time the French don't know what to make of him and it is genuinely funny- albeit a bit arrogant to presume that everyone in a foreign country should know English. The tone of the book does come across as a bit smug in places unfortunately. However, part way through the book suddenly descends into sex, sex and more sex and it looses the plot somewhat which is a shame and the focus on the French and their customs and culture is put on the back burner.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellent book, lots of laughs together with an insight into French language & culturePublished 4 months ago by Colin Naylor
When cultures collide! It's lovely exaggeration of stereotypes of both Brits and French yet not strong enough to be absurd. Quite lovely story with nice humor. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Igor M.
Well, it is a very funny book. If you want to read something to relax and at the same time to get known about the life in Paris then this book is what you needPublished 11 months ago by Olena Karazieieva
Complete and utter tripe. Bought this as a book club read and we were all thoroughly disgusted by it. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Tappytippy
I fail to understand how this man can call himself a writer and produce total rubbish. This book lacks coherence, intelligence, and the use of the English language is of the... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Kitty