Synopses & Reviews
An urban antidote to A Year in Provence, Stephen Clarke's book is a laugh-out-loud account of a year in the life of an expat in Paris-for Francophiles and Francophobes alike.
A Year in the Merde is the almost-true account of the author's adventures as an expat in Paris. Based on his own experiences and with names changed to "avoid embarrassment, possible legal action-and to prevent the author's legs being broken by someone in a Yves Saint Laurent suit", the book is narrated by Paul West, a twenty-seven-year-old Brit who is brought to Paris by a French company to open a chain of British "tea rooms." He must manage of a group of lazy, grumbling French employees, maneuver around a treacherous Parisian boss, while lucking into a succession of lusty girlfriends (one of whom happens to be the boss's morally challenged daughter). He soon becomes immersed in the contradictions of French culture: the French are not all cheese-eating surrender monkeys, though they do eat a lot of smelly cheese, and they are still in shock at being stupid enough to sell Louisiana, thus losing the chance to make French the global language. The book will also tell you how to get the best out of the grumpiest Parisian waiter, how to survive a French business meeting, and how not to buy a house in the French countryside.
The author originally wrote A Year in the Merde just for fun and self-published it in France in an English-language edition. Weeks later, it had become a word-of-mouth hit for expats and the French alike. With translation rights now sold in eleven countries and already a bestseller in the UK and France, Stephen Clarke is clearly a Bill Bryson (or a Peter Mayle...) for a whole new generation of readers who can never quite decide whether they love-or love to hate-the French.
"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 la franaise. 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)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Call him the anti-Mayle. Stephen Clarke is acerbic, insulting, un-PC and mostly hilarious."
San Francisco Chronicle
"The antidote to Peter Mayle, this 'almost-true memoir' will appeal equally to Francophobes and Francophiles."
New York Post (4 stars)
"Combines the gaffes of Bridget Jones with the boldness of James Bond."
"Clarke does for Paris what Peter Mayle did for Provence...Highly recommended."
Library Journal (starred review)
"Highly entertaining ... Clarke renders the flavor of life in Paris impeccably...[his] eye for detail is terrific."
"Highly entertaining...Clarke renders the flavor of life in Paris impeccably."--Washington Post
"Call him the anti-Mayle. Stephen Clarke is acerbic, insulting, un-PC and mostly hilarious."--San Francisco Chronicle.
"The antidote to Peter Mayle, this 'almost-true memoir' will appeal equally to Francophobes and Francophiles."--New York Post (4 stars)
"The book is laugh-out-loud hilarious. Like the best of British comedy, Merde is a comedy of errors...[with] great interlingual puns, a vivacious spirit and a playful attitude about the absurdities of a foreign culture."--Rocky Mountain News
"Combines the gaffes of Bridget Jones with the boldness of James Bond... Clarke's sharp eye for detail and relentless wit make even the most quotidian task seem surreal."--Publishers Weekly
Based on Stephen Clarke's own experiences and with names changed to "avoid embarrassment, possible legal action, and to prevent the author's legs being broken by someone in a Yves Saint Laurent suit," A Year in the Merde
provides perfect entertainment for Francophiles and Francophobes alike.
About the Author
Stephen Clarke is a British writer working for a French press group in Paris. He has previously written comedy for BBC Radio. He is currently working on the next volume of Paul West's adventures.