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A Year in the Merde Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook, CD


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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Abridged edition (April 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593977557
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593977559
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 14.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #771,129 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Take a self-assured Brit with an eye for the ladies, drop him in the middle of Paris with a tenuous grasp of the language and you have Clarke's alter ego, Paul West, who combines the gaffes of Bridget Jones with the boldness of James Bond. Hired to oversee the creation of a French chain of British tearooms, Clarke, aka West, spends nine months—the equivalent of a French business year—stumbling his way through office politics à la française. Clarke's sharp eye for detail and relentless wit make even the most quotidian task seem surreal, from ordering a cup of coffee to picking up a loaf of bread at the boulangerie. Luck is by West's side as he moves into a stunning apartment (with his boss's attractive daughter), but he has to be careful where he steps, as he finds he "began to branch out from literal to metaphorical encounters of the turd kind." Between conspiring colleagues, numerous sexual escapades (he deems French porn "unsexy" since "Being French, they had to talk endlessly before they got down to action") and simply trying to order a normal-sized glass of beer, West quickly learns essential tricks to help him keep his head above the Seine. Originally self-published in Paris, Clarke's first book in a soon-to-be-series is funny and well-written enough to appeal to an audience beyond just Francophiles. Agent, Susanna Lea at Susanna Lea Associates. (May) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Brit Paul West escapes his homeland to take a job in Paris marketing English tearooms to the French. Over a year's cycle he discovers that the French way of doing business thrives on maneuvering nimbly through a minefield of unique, demanding personalities. An inveterate womanizer, he finds plenty of skirts to chase and conquer. After a comic search for an apartment, he settles in the city's trendy Marais district. Urban stress in general, combined with a need to escape the upstairs family whose every move reverberates to distraction, forces West to escape to a Norman getaway featuring all the bucolic charms and a cast of neighbors and townspeople to rival Peter Mayle's Provencal rustics. West disdains French food for its love of organ meats and its fascination with revoltingly smelly cheeses. Francophobes will find much here to reinforce their prejudices; more balanced observers will find Clarke's caricatures of the French simply very funny reading.

Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Customer Reviews

Well written book describing in a very funny way living in Paris and the French.
Amazon Customer
I rarely laugh out loud when I read even funny books, but I howled and laughed till I cried reading this one!
G.K.
It seems that French men are universally suspect, while French women are just sex objects.
James B. Nichols

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 77 people found the following review helpful By G. Eymard on May 25, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm French and I read this book because an American friend lent it to me. I spent a lot of time in the US where I studied and worked and it took me a lot of time to understand why I felt so lost in this country just like most Americans feel upon moving to France. I just felt Americans were so welcoming but at the same time seemed so rude to me. Obviously I was the one who should try to understand and adapt and after a while and some introspection things went very well.

I was first intrigued by this story but I enjoyed reading it. However, you should know this book isn't to be taken too seriously. It made me laugh because I could recognize typical French reactions to what we see as rude and arrogant British behavior. But everyone wouldn't act like that although at times I would have done the same because the character deserved it for being such an ass. He unconsciously realizes he is not going anywhere acting like that and gradually adapts to the French way of life. For sure, French are never going to change because foreigner don't understand them, which is quite normal after all, even if they should sometimes. In fact what is striking about the relationship between French and Brits or Americans is how much everything looks the same on the surface but is different underneath, in the details. Obviously one has to concede the character isn't trying his best to adapt to the codes and, unfortunately, gets what you would expect a (stereotypical) Frenchman would do to a foreigner acting that way: a revenge for not trying to act French in the form of rudeness and aggressivity. So if that book seems to illustrate your feeling about your last trip to France try to read a few tips on how to get the best of French people. Here are mine: be polite, not intrusive, and say it when something is wrong...
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83 of 91 people found the following review helpful By Sigrun on April 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
As someone who lived for a year in France as an exchange student this book brought back memories of how it was to discover France and french culture.

Paul West, a young englishman, comes to Paris to work there for a year, establishing english tea-houses for a french business. During this year he explores french culture and describes his experience one month at a time.

And what a read. The author is extremely witty without taking it too far and manages to point out some striking differences between english culture and the french one without sounding condescending.

The french people loath America and american culture and England and all things english are only a notch less despised. In spite of that they have embraced some things american and/or english such as McDonalds with a fierce passion that would put the average American to shame. Taking the family for a Macdo on a Saturday is a ritual for many and the Happy Meal is loved like it belongs to french cuisine.

Of course, this book doesn't give you a complete understanding of french society but it does provide a pretty good insight. It mentions the importance of the shrug, for example. The shrug is heavily used in France, in fact I don't think anyone has mastered conveying such strong emotion (total indifference) like they have. The book also tells us, for instance, about the importance of using the right language when ordering something at a french restaurant/bistro (of course, speaking in english is strictly forbidden) to get exactly what you want, how you must throw away notions of being liked and embrace being rude in a polite way, how wishing somenoe Bonne journee (Good day) can drive people mad and how you never ever cut the lettuce on your plate.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By rommyc on October 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover
or read a few pages before buying a book? Folks, be forewarned (which you should have been already) - this book is NOT from the Under The Tuscan Sun/Year in Provence school, although it does have to do with France. It's for folks who like Monty Python and Fawlty Towers. It's young, broad, British, bawdy, lovingly mean-spirited, frequently hilarious. The main character is obsessed with drinking and sex - almost like a male ex-pat Le Sex in Le City. If you are of a certain age, PLEASE do everyone a favor and sample this book beforehand. Many of you will recoil in horror, which is obviously the intention. If you "get it," you'll love this skewering of the French, and indirectly the British as well.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on November 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Before jumping on a plane recently, I picked up A Year in the Merde. As a current expatriate in a French-speaking country, I thought this book might be particularly relevant and funny. I thoroughly enjoyed the first few chapters (broken out by months in the book), but it began to lose my interest less than halfway in. The sharp wit and humor of the first 100 pages seemed to be less frequent and less funny in the remainder. Still somewhat funny, but a bit redundant. It is a light and basically enjoyable read - and not bad by any means - but keep your expectations low and you will not be disappointed.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By WiltDurkey on July 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
My wife and I, both of whom are French nationals living in Canada, were laughing out loud throughout the book.

It does a great job making fun of innumerable French foibles (a good deal of which consist of thinking that Civilization, decency, and common sense end at the French borders). Paul West, the main character _is_ a bit sophomoric and somewhat obsessed with girls (not all Parisiennes are nymphos but I will forgive him that overgeneralization). And, yes, the story isn't, quite, War and Peace, but it is good enough for its purpose, which is to carry the jokes and criticisms. Besides their funny side, some of the criticisms concern things that are really serious problems in France (strikes, racism, public sector entitlements, lack of new politicians), even if they are presented lightly.

That said, I think the humor will best be appreciated by someone who has lived in France for a while. Just having been there on a short vacation does not count. If you can't relate to day to day life in France, the book loses much of its appeal, is just critical, and you are left with a rather lightweight story.

Also skip if:

- you happen to be French and deprived of a sense of humor

- you are looking for any kind of serious analysis.

- you are an Ann Coulter fan. Much too subtle for you and Paul actually likes some aspect of France.
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