A Year in the Merde

  • by Stephen Clarke
  • Narrated by Gerard Doyle
  • 4 hrs and 58 mins
  • Abridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 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 becomes immersed in the contradictions of French culture: the French are not all cheese-eating surrender monkeys, though they do eat a lot of smelly cheese; they are still in shock at being stupid enough to sell Louisiana, thus losing the chance to make French the global language; and going on strike is the second national participation sport after petanque. He also illuminates how to get the best out of the grumpiest Parisian waiter, how to survive a French business meeting, and how not to buy a house in the French countryside. The author originally wrote A Year in the Merde just for fun and self-published it in France in an English language edition. Weeks later, it had become a word-of-mouth hit for expats and the French alike, even outselling Bill Clinton's memoir at Paris' fabled American bookstore, Brentano's. With translation rights now sold in 11 countries, Stephen Clarke is clearly a Bill Bryson (or a Peter Mayle...) for a whole new generation of readers who can never quite decide whether they love, or love to hate, the French.


What the Critics Say

"Funny and well-written enough to appeal to an audience beyond just Francophiles." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


This little book had me guffawing in rush hour traffic. It's a delicious portrait of one young Englishman and his world of mysteriously crazy French colleagues. The Englishman's amazement, disgust, surpise, and reluctant tolerance of French ways during his year in Paris are palpable; even if the reader is not English and has never been to France, he will feel very much that he has endured Paul West's same trials. Those readers who are English and have worked in France will likely find this book even more hilarious. In addition to the fine detail and writing, this book's deadpan reader makes the listening a real delight. Cheers!
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- Courtney

A different kind of travelog

A nice listen: rarely did my mind wander as it sometimes does with audio books. The reader does a great job keeping the story on track. I enjoyed listening to the cultural differences between the French and the English. It would probably make a good Lifetime movie.
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- Beth

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-27-2005
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio