A Year in the Merde
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A Year in the Merde (Paul West #1)

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  8,942 ratings  ·  878 reviews
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...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published December 1st 2008 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2004)
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Feb 25, 2008 Christine rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: misogynists who also hate France
This started off so promisingly with snarky but charming British banter about France's little annoying idiosyncrasies that anyone who has spent any time in France can appreciate. The main character, a British twenty-something, chronicles his year living in France while working for a corrupt corporate sleaze bag who wants help marketing tea rooms in Paris. It turns out that the main character is also a sleaze bag AND a "whinge cow" as he so aptly dubs whiners. By the month of February I was so si...more
Jul 27, 2008 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: francophiles, francophobes and everything inbetween.
Shelves: own
I picked this up in the train station at Charles de Gaulle airport a few minutes before my flight was cancelled and I was forced to spend another day in Paris, almost a year ago. Tough life, right?

I never read it, though.

Don't know why, but last week I felt an urge to pick it up. Read it in about 26 hours, couldn't put it down.

If you have no knowledge of the French, France, or French it might not be terribly interesting. If, however, you've spent a significant portion of your life dealing with,...more
Julia S
Aug 12, 2007 Julia S rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: francophobics
Never been to France? Never plan to go?
If you want a truly insulting, xenophobic experience of "French Culture" then read this book. Otherwise, you could run into the middle of the Champs Elysées and scream in your most loud, incomprehensible, slang English, "I THINK THIS COUNTRY SUCKS BUT I'D PREFER TO BE HERE INSULTING THE MOST STEREOTYPICAL CLICHES AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS RATHER THAN BACK AT HOME WHERE EVERYTHING IS ORDINARY AND BORING."
If you like it better at home, then go home.
This book is one of the best friends I have met recently. One of those friends you need because only they really understand you.
It is really funny and an very accurate portrait of French goofiness. I don't know how funny it would be to most people, but being an expat living in Paris, it is tear inducing funny. Just when you think you are alone floating in the french sea, something like this comes along and makes you realize you aren't alone. I can't wait to read his other books.
This book is highly readable, the kind of thing that one could read from start to finish if one just had a few hours with nothing to do. However, this is the most positive thing I can say about this book. It's supposed be one of those screwball accounts of someone living in a foreign culture and the wacky mishaps he experiences, but mostly it's about a relatively uninteresting Englishman who tries much too hard at being funny, and who simply didn't bother to find out anything at all about how Fr...more
I read this book at the airport on my way home from france and i couldn't stop laughing.it's very clever, and extremelly laugh out loud funny.
May 06, 2008 Sarah rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: francophones
Shelves: fiction, travel
I couldn't help myself; this book absolutely cracked me up. That may be because the author's descriptions of countless strikes by trash collectors, public transportation workers, police officers, and journalists brought back fond memories of my own stay in France--during which I also stepped in a fair amount of merde. The audiobook was particularly good, with the dramatist's illustraions of the countless miscommunications between francophones and anglophones. The story line is about Paul West, a...more
Terri Garrett
Jan 03, 2014 Terri Garrett rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Someone in to snarky British men
This book inspired me to create a new bookshelf entitled: "not worth finishing". I RARELY start a book and don't finish it...and it was probably just my mind set of having several other books I preferred to read over this one...and the fact that this was a library book that I needed to return. Maybe if I were to give it another chance at some point I would feel differently.

Typically if I have a library book that is approaching the deadline, I will just sit down and bust through it. But, I just d...more
Nov 09, 2008 Agnes rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
UPDATE: This book was one of the worse ones I've read recently. Not much humor and the attempts at it are pathetic. To be fair, I did quit halfway through, but the misogyny just got to be too much. I did get some good tips on ordering at a French cafe, however.

I picked up the French translation of this book at the airport in Paris two days ago (titled "God Save La France," for some reason). It's the story of a 20-something Brit, who doesn't speak much French, working in Paris for a year. I'm rea...more
Jan 21, 2013 Merel rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cathy
Shelves: novel, comical
A YEAR IN THE MERDE is the almost-true account of the author’s adventures as an expat in Paris. Based loosely 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 (or quite possibly, a Christian Dior skirt), ” A YEAR IN THE MERDE is the story of a Paul West, a 27-year-old Brit who is brought to Paris by a French company to open a chain of British “tea rooms.” He soon beco...more
I was browsing some titles in a bookshop and suddenly I found this book. How great, I thought, because as a student of the French language, I am more or less compelled to buy anything related to France. So I scanned it and bought it immediately. I should have known however that what I have before me is a bit of a crap, hence the title.

The main reason that I bought it is that I want to be familiarized with French culture. The Parisian culture to be exact. But, as the author is British and given t...more
Ron Arden
This book was a riot to read. Some of it is literally "laugh out loud" and other parts are more of the smirk and giggle. The hero or anti-hero of the story is Paul West (or Paul Vest as some of the French say). He is a 27 year old Brit who was hired by a French food company to create a string of English tea rooms.

It seems the French really do like all things British, including the English language, even though outwardly they complain about it all. Paul was hired by the CEO of the French company...more
Anna Steinbrecher
I read this book about a month and a half into my trip to Paris which came as a breath of fresh air in between the guidebooks, intellectual culinary reviews, and all of the other literature that fell into the "rose-colored glasses" symptoms usually exhibited when describing Paris. Well okay... instead of saying it was a "breath of fresh air" it might be more along the lines of a "fresh burst of flatulence in a crowded elevator".
Let's get one thing straight about Clarke's writing abilities first...more
Shauna Tyndall
Dec 24, 2010 Shauna Tyndall added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nobody.
Shelves: 2010, avoid
This book could have been good, all the right ingredients were there. Unfortunately, the main character, Paul, comes across as being a racist, sexist, stupid sad case.

It basically makes a mockery of the French. Even their accents are slagged off by Paul. Somebody should have told the guy that in France, the French people have French accents. He's in their country, he's the one with the funny accent.

The actual storyline itself, is pretty bad. He moves to France, having got a job in a company that...more
Jun 05, 2014 Justyna rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no-one
This was painful and horrible on so many levels that I don't even know where to start.
While in general I enjoy "culture-shock" books, particularly those involving France or other francophone countries, I just couldn't bring myself to finish this one. Reading it past the first few pages soon became almost physically painful and I finally gave up somewhere half-way through. But I tried, because so many people claimed it would be funny. Well, it wasn't. Maybe if the main character wasn't a stuck-up...more
This is not a Peter Mayle book. There were certainly fun moments and we see the author has been exposed the French culture with all its strange aspects but... it does not have the charm of "A Year in Provence" Where P.Mayle looks around with a circumspect but benign view of the French, Clarke simply is there to criticize or denigrate. Maybe it's that Engligh wit which is supposed to be ironic and sarcastic but it gets on the nerves at one point.
Then there is the sex, sex, whatever. We get it tha...more
Hilarious but also really intelligently put together. If you're looking for an idealized, dream version of an expats year in France, this ain't it. But if you have even a slight knowledge of Parisian life and culture, this book is wonderful. Some reviewers said they found it too mean and insulting, but I dont think the author hates the French. In fact, in the end his character remains in Paris. this is really a book about learning to navigate a very complex, highly developed, very subtle and ver...more
Après The Secret Life Of France (que j'avais lu en anglais), je m'attaque aux aventures de Paul West (en traduction française).

Paul a 27 ans et débarque à Paris pour travailler dans le quartier des Champs-Elysées. Nous somme à la veille de la guerre d'Irak (mars 2003).

Le récit est très plaisant lire, il arrive plein de choses. Les traits sont forcés (les grèves, les files d'attentes, les congés, ...), mais c'est vrai ;)
Il est quand même relativement bien tombé, bien payé, loge dans le marais, e...more
Well, after living three years in a French-speaking multicultural environment heavily influenced by the French style, i ve found this book extreme funny and absolutely worth of reading. it s very easy to digest book since the writer is not worried to show off some excellence in literature. it would be even funnier if you ve ever suffered from French in your life. i strongly recommend this book to those who are interested in French way of living.
I found this book hilarious, charming, and a breath of fresh air. I picked it up because I'm a huge Francophile. For some this book will be complete merde (to borrow from the over usage in the novel) and others it will be a funny look at living in another country. I have been to France but i did not see it the way the narrator did. It was as if I look at Paris through rose-colored glasses and romanticized it.

The narrator is an arrogant, sex-crazed Brit who is there to do a job and only that. Th...more
This is the story of Paul West, an English man who moves to Paris in France for his job. Stephen Clarke, the author, tells about his own experience through his character.
I read this book in French. The French title is "God save la France" which sounds satirical without knowing what is the story about. I laughed sometimes when I was reading the book because some of the aspects of the French are true, even if some of them are really exaggerated and others only true for Paris (sorry to say that eve...more
Moderately amusing, although quite crass. Humorous commentaries on the French that are applicable to other Europeans as well. Why do we have such a love/hate relationship with everything French?
A funny take on a young Englishman's year in France. The main character tries to date various locals and works for a slimy boss. It's fairly astute and entertaining.
Merde, to byla ale dobrá knížka.:-)

Už nějakou dobu si ráda ujíždím na příbězích odehrávající se v Paříži, která je pro mě městem snů. Ještě se mi ale nedostal pod ruku takový příběh, který by dráždil mou bránici díky zesměšňování francouzské kultury či jejich obyvatel.
Ano, smála jsem se téměř na každé druhé stránce. Paul West je pro mě sympatický, britský hrdina, jež se celkem bravurně vypořádal s útrapy pařížského života, dokonce i s psími merde.

Se Stephenem Clarkem jsem měla tu čest se setkat...more
Extremely enjoyable, Stephen Clarke's novel (first in a series) skews both the French and the expat living among them with equally honed barbs. An enjoyable story in its own right, the book also manages to work in a number of lessons on French culture, perfectly buried amidst the goings on of the plot. A quick read, and one I will be forever indebted to for teaching me about ordering "demis" and "noisettes", I recommend it to anyone planning to travel to France for any amount of time, or interes...more
Read it again in 2012 on a holiday, it was fun again to read.
Book Concierge
Audio book read by John Lee

This is a “true story” of one Brit’s experiences working for a French company in Paris in 2002-2003. Paul West is hired to open a chain of “typical” English tearooms in Paris. We quickly learn that he barely understands, let alone speaks French, he’s saddled with a team that isn’t at all enthusiastic about working on the project, and he can’t even seem to order a normal size cup of coffee. Still he manages to luck into a pretty good living situation – rooming with his...more
Ian Mapp
So, this is a real life journal of the authors year working in Paris, trying to get an English Tea Shop enterprise off the ground. But he has changed the characters names to protect the inncoent and avoid reprisals.... inlcuding the main character, which is himself.

Surely it cannot be too hard for people to recognise themselves.

What you would expect from the title really. A fish out of water compares the life of the french against the english. He loves the women, the food, the culture - he is le...more
"Because the French don't like us. That's why they built refugee camps yards from the Eurotunnel entrance and refuse to eat our beef years after it was declared safe."

Hahahaha. This was pretty funny, and the English-French antagonism and 'must-mock-each-other-constantly' mentality is one of my favourite things. And I must say this was pretty well done here. I think most of my enjoyment comes from the fact that I am neither French nor English, so I was able to fully appreciate this without ever b...more
2005- I picked up this book thinking it was a true story, I put it down still thinking maybe author Stephen Clarke had drawn on his own life a bit. Maybe it was the cover quote which tipped me off, reading ""There are lots of French people who are not at all hypocritical, inefficient, treacherous, in tolerant, adulterous or incredibly sexy....They just didn't make it into my book."" C'mon, that has to make you at least crack a grin. (Except maybe if you're French). The author's alter ego, Paul W...more
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“If they wanted their shit stirred, then stirred their shit was jolly well going to be.” 51 likes
“I was also sick of my neighbors, as most Parisians are. I now knew every second of the morning routine of the family upstairs. At 7:00 am alarm goes off, boom, Madame gets out of bed, puts on her deep-sea divers’ boots, and stomps across my ceiling to megaphone the kids awake. The kids drop bags of cannonballs onto the floor, then, apparently dragging several sledgehammers each, stampede into the kitchen. They grab their chunks of baguette and go and sit in front of the TV, which is always showing a cartoon about people who do nothing but scream at each other and explode. Every minute, one of the kids cartwheels (while bouncing cannonballs) back into the kitchen for seconds, then returns (bringing with it a family of excitable kangaroos) to the TV. Meanwhile the toilet is flushed, on average, fifty times per drop of urine expelled. Finally, there is a ten-minute period of intensive yelling, and at 8:15 on the dot they all howl and crash their way out of the apartment to school.” (p.137)” 20 likes
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