Liked It2 of 2 members found this review helpful
“Funny book about the experiences of an Englishman working in Paris, starting with the dog turd he seldom manages to evade when walking the parisian 'trottoir'. Everyone who has ever been confronted with a clerk at the car rentals office speaking Chinese in his presence with the effort to make it...”see full review » see other reviews »
Didn’t Like It1 of 1 members found this review helpful
“A light, novelised account of confronting day-to-day Paris armed with a host of English prejudices. In spite of what the title might seem to suggest, the author is far from being without sympathy for France and is much more critical of attitudes and habits in the UK than of daily life in the...”see full review » see other reviews »
“Hillarious”Jana B wrote this review 8 days ago. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“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 and immediately comes up against the French attitude (or at least the Parisian attitude) with everyone. He is the dirt under their feet and speed is never of the essence. Paul comes across all the stereotypes of Parisians not really caring about anything, taking 2 hour lunches, striking for silly reasons, doing the shoulder shrug and undermining whatever they can if it interferes with leisure time. Paul is used to getting things done in work and in his personal life and this attitude takes a bit of getting used to. He eventually adapts to the French way of life. As an example of the insanity, he meets his bosses family at dinner one evening. The bosses eldest daughter, a business school student, says that Paul can stay in her apartment, since he needs to find one and they are very expensive. Paul is a bit hesitant, but goes to the place. The daughter immediately beds him and seals the deal, so to speak. The father (boss) is fine with this. The daughter also has many other lovers and so Paul gets himself a girlfriend. That is on and off for awhile and he gets another one. Meanwhile he has a falling out with the bosses daughter and finds out the boss actually owns the apartment, except these apartments are supposed to be subsidized for students. If you are still following me, then pat yourself on the back. Paul's project to create the English tea rooms is moving very slowly because his French team are a bunch of useless slackers who the boss won't fire. French law would make it more expensive to fire them then to reshuffle them to other projects. Alors! The Irag war ensues and the tea room project is on hold. Paul's boss, Jean-Marie, suggests he take a long holiday. Then he decides to fire him, but Paul has an ace up his sleeve that he can use for blackmail. That apparently is the French way. It seems that Paul-Marie is doing some illegal and sleazy business and Paul has the evidence. Jean-Marie is also running for political office, so he makes a deal with Paul. All's well that ends well for Paul as his merde life improves dramatically. He has a new and better girlfriend. One of his own lovers helps him with financing and the 3 of them go into business to, yes, you guessed it, create a string of English tea rooms. Ah Paris.”Ron Arden wrote this review Monday, March 18, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A semi-fictional account of an Englishman who moves to Paris and deals with the craziness that is Paris Culture. Very funny.”John Havranek wrote this review Thursday, January 31, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“An amusing account of an Englishman moving to Paris and gaining the insights in the nuances of Paris life. Filled with cultural stereotypes, which might bother the occasional French reader, but rather entertaining for the rest of us.”Eyvind wrote this review Wednesday, January 30, 2013. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Stephen Clarke is one of the four or five funniest writers on the planet.”Marvin Gray wrote this review Friday, November 9, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“I finished reading this back in June? Anyhoo, VERY humourous! Interesting British perspective! ”EmiLee wrote this review Wednesday, August 29, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Has some funny bits and is beyond snarky. Peter Mayle is gentler and funnier in depicting the French.”Bombadillo wrote this review Tuesday, August 28, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“Quite amusing.”Tatyana wrote this review Monday, August 20, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“hilarious. have never been to paris, but this is one hilarious read!!”2feetintheair wrote this review Thursday, August 9, 2012. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“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 boss’s daughter in subsidized student housing. As he traverses the streets of Paris and cultural nuances of the French, he soon finds himself stepping in the “merde” … both literally and figuratively.
I was hoping for a Peter Mayle style, but was disappointed. Clarke certainly tackles the French political climate, the people’s attitudes towards work, food and/or sex, the unions, and the love/hate relationship with all things English. There are some humorous scenes, but nothing laugh-out-loud funny. I listened to the audio book, narrated by John Lee; he does a great job with the various characters and their differing accents. Three stars is a little generous, but (*shrugs with arms extended, palm up*) it did remind me of what I love (and hate) about France.