Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Year in the Merde - Stephen Clarke

The Basics: A Year in the Merde, Stephen Clarke, 2005, 276 pages (paperback), apparently there is a sequel called Merde, Actually.

What it's about:
This is a fictionalized account of an English guy's experience of going to live in Paris for a year to work for a French food company and develop a chain of English-style tearooms. Along the way he learns about French people and culture, and manages to hook up with a lot of French girls. He is a bit of a Hugh Grant character who does typically English things like stepping in dog merde while he's out on a date. Hence the title.

Did I like it?:
Ummm... yes and no. It seemed a bit like one of those fluffy chick-lit books, kind of like the Shopaholic books, but written from a guy's perspective. It also seemed a bit Bill Bryson-ish, as if he was trying extra hard to make me laugh. But he did make me laugh a few times I guess. This book is supposed to read like a travel story or a living abroad memoir, but it really reads more like a poorly thought-out novel where all the events have to be compressed into a chronological order because the character is on a one year contract.

Would you like it?:
Well, that depends. The book is kind of cute, and on occasion funny. If you have any particular connection to Paris, this account of living there would be nice to read. If you want a better Bryson, this isn't bad as well. It would make a good fluffy book to read if you are in the mood for that kind of thing, but don't rush out an buy it. Borrow it from a friend or the library, or maybe pick it up at a used bookstore.

But don't take my word for it:
Editorial reviews, other regular people reviews.

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