A Year in the Merde

Stephen Clarke
Jan 8, 2017

Need a break from American foibles? Here is a perfect chance to laugh at both the English and the French instead.

I loved A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle, about an expat making a home in the French countryside. His account is filled with plenty of humor and not a little exasperation, but ultimately the author showcases the beauty of the belle vie. Stephen Clarke follows suit with his congenial lambast of French and Parisian culture. His novel (or thinly-disguised tell-all?) takes us away from provincial life and explores the inner workings of professional and urban scenes, with not so much as a sprig of lavender to distract us. Clarke himself gives us as much to laugh about, with his typical expat blunders and English obtuseness, along with the fact that he is trying to sell English cuisine – to the French.

Will Clarke survive numerous institutional strikes? Will he ever get the attention of a Parisian waiter? Are French lovers all they’re cracked up to be? Book yourself a rendezvous with A Year in the Merde to find out.

Reviewed by Megan C.
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