Don’t get me wrong: the year that’s almost over has been a great year! I had two weddings, went on two honeymoons, enjoyed seeing my family and friends from Europe, learnt a lot, read a lot, cooked new dishes, met and worked with great people!
But if you’re looking for a Christmas gift idea for a friend who loves French culture (or for yourself!), I can only recommend Stephen’s Clark “A Year in the Merde”. The novel is in English (with some French words), so it’s above all for entertainment, and it IS doing the job very well! When I read it, I burst out laugh many times – which is probably a good indicator of my ability to cope with self-depreciation, because the author’s portrait of French people and French society is not always all unicorns and roses!
This is a very humoristic account of the author’s nine months spent in France for work. The book is divided into nine chapters (one per month) which each focuses around a specific theme: the necessity of dodging dog poops on the footpaths, finding an apartment, how to have a romance with a French girlfriend, etc.
Based on true life events experienced by the author himself, the book is the first of a series of many: Merde Actually, Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French, Paris Revealed: The Secret Life of a City, Merde Happens, Dial M for Merde, 1000 Years of Annoying the French, In the Merde for Love.
I haven’t read these other novels (yet) so I can only recommend “A Year in the Merde”. That said, if you love Stephen Clark’s satirical humour, you should have a lot of fun reading them (unless you get an overdose!). To help with your decision, have a look and start reading the first pages of the novels on Amazon (affiliate links).
If you’ve read “A Year in the Merde”, or any other Clarke’s novels, what did you think of it?
If you’ve been to France before, what cultural differences particularly struck you (in a positive or in a negative way)? Share your experience in the comment section below! 😉