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I was more than happy to find a kindle edition of this book as I haven’t read it for years, but I could still remember that this was a good read. Coming back to this years later I find that it is still well worth reading, and am thus glad that I nominated it for my local book group.

The story opens in late 1922 on the outskirts of the town Clochemerle, a small picturesque town in the Beaujolais area of France. The mayor discusses with his assistant a plan that he has to build a public urinal for the town, an idea that seems perfectly harmless. Thus we leap into 1923 with the unveiling of this urinal, but although a relatively smooth ceremony is carried through, how long before someone puts a spanner in the works?

As we read through this we find out more about Clochemerle and its more celebrated residents, along with the jealousies, gossip, and sexual shenanigans that go on. Gabriel Chevallier weaves a very funny, satirical and highly entertaining tale about what goes on in Clochemerle. With one woman complaining that the urinal, situated near the church is lowering the morals of the town people start to become divided into a for or against feeling towards the toilet. As the heat sets in in the summer of 1923 and the inhabitants imbibe more than usual of their local produce things are bound to come to a head. With fighting in the church, rioting and even the Government sending in troops will Clochemerle ever be the same again?

With lovely illustrations and a story that will make you laugh out loud you can’t really go wrong with this. Although written by a Frenchman in places this does feel quite Wodehousian, which is probably why it has always been quite popular over here. There was a TV series made of this for the BBC in the early Seventies which I have been led to believe is now available on DVD, so although I haven’t yet looked for it, it should also be available on this site.
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on 26 April 2017
Did not enjoy
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on 19 September 2013
Anyone seeking to understand why France is the way it is now should have a quick look at the way it was - 90 years ago!
Incredible as it may now seem, all the events of Clochemerle took place in 1923! Everything in village life is there.
Starting with the social-political dynamic of every French village (the Mayor, the Schoolteacher, the Priest), and the cultural dynamic between the generations, and how this idyllic world can, as a result of a series of incidents for which no-one is personally responsible, will turn to a nightmare 'storm in a teacup' for a whole administration.
A 'butterfly effect' - or a 'Clochmerle-effect', and all of this over a simple urinal!
This is a wonderfully witty translation, and much of the equally-wonderful Peter Ustinov film was based on it. Anyone trying to understand village life should probably start here. Joanne Harris' 'Chocolat' makes a brave attempt but the dynamics of the public convenience seem to do more than that of the chocolate shop.
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on 5 November 2014
Dry humour. A loving but wicked look at a small French town in the late 1920s. A classic.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 June 2009
Ah Clochemerle. Possibly my favourite book of all time. I've re-read it about 6 or 7 times now most recently just finishing it yesterday and it never fails to amuse and impress me. Bearing in mind it was written in 1936 it is a bit "racy" and when you consider it was translated in the same year for British publication, I hate to think what the guardians of our morals thought in those days. It still stands up well to the test of time and it's just a shame the two follow up novels - inferior but still fun - are so hard to get hold off. Just while I'm mentioning translation, the translator in this case goes under the crazy name of Jocelyn Godefroi and he makes an excellent job of it. Everyone who takes it upon themselves to publish a novel in translation from French should look to this one and marvel at what a great job he(she?) does.
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on 8 January 2013
I read teh book becuae I cannot seem to get hold of the TV series that BBC showed in about 1974 / 75
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on 23 June 2014
I first read this book when I was c.18 (1955) and found it exceedingly funny. The book is about the confrontation of secular and religious forces in a small wine-growing village in France. The trouble begins when the socialist mayor decides that he wants to erect a public urinal in the centre of the town next to the church.
When I bought my tablet recently I decided to check if it was still in print and if I would still find it as funny. I was not disappointed. Chevalier has a wonderful wit and describes the main characters and their antics with zest and great humour.
I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good laugh.
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on 1 January 2013
2012 is, for me, my second time of reading this amusing and beautifully written gem of a story - whoever translated it from the original French must have an amazing command of both languages to have retained the essence and style. Having lived with French village/small town life for some eighteen plus years it is impossible not to recognise the characters, the issues and, dare I say it, the pettiness that is so often bubbling beneath the surface all of which will come together to leave you with a permanent grin and intermittent bursts of laughter. Avoid reading in public places. Two clips of the BBC production are available on You Tube but please can someone dig out a copy of the whole series, we all know they are about!
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on 26 May 2017
I watched Clochemerle as a serial on BBC television about 55 years ago. Finally decided to buy the book. It is like a French Don Camillo. Set in a small rural village, with antagonism between the mayor and priest. (Although they are nothing like Don Camillo and Peppone.) It shows small village life, with many interesting characters. Anyone who likes Don Camillo will love Clochemerle.
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on 27 April 2017
It as was far more enjoyable than either the TV presentations, this was partly because of its description of both people and place. The latter was so descriptive that on feels one could easily drive to Clochemerle and recognise the surrounding scenery. The situations were hilarious and deserved reading again. Altogether the best by in novels I have had for some years!
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