Friday 30 July 2021

Clarke, Stephen "Merde actually"

Clarke, Stephen "Merde actually" (aka In the Merde for Love) - 2005

After reading "A Year in the Merde", I was sure I'd want to read more of his books (as mentioned in my review).

So, this one made it onto my TBR pile and since it sas "Paris in July" month, I had to read it now.

Paul West, the author's alter ego, I suppose, is still in Paris and has opened a British tea room. He struggles with the French authorities who don't accept anything not precisely written in French and with French girls, their families and the French in general. He picks on everyone, though, his English compatriots as well as any kind of tourists he comes across in his tearoom. Still quite funny, not as hilarious as the first one but a good sequel.

Again, a nice book to read as an expat but also for those who love to travel or France. The Times said he is "edgier than Bryson, hits harder than Mayle". While I agree with the latter, nobody can beat Bill Bryson, he is the best travel writer there is.

From the back cover:

"A year after arriving in France, Englishman Paul West is still struggling with some fundamental questions:

What is the best way to scare a gendarme? Why do French job applicants put sexually transmitted diseases on their CVs? Why are there no public health warnings on French nudist beaches? And how do you cope with a plague of courgettes?

Paul also mutates (temporarily) into a Parisian waiter, samples the pleasures of typically French hotel-room afternoons, and on a return visit to the United Kingdom, sees the full horror of a British office party through Parisian eyes. Meanwhile, he continues his search for the perfect French mademoiselle. But will Paul find l'amour eternel, or will it all end in merde?

Stephen Clarke has written more sequels to this story in the meantime (in addition to the ones I mentioned in my other review):

"The Merde Factor" - 2012
"Merde in Europe" - 2016

And some non-fiction:
"Dirtily Bertie: An English King Made in France" - 2014
"How the French Won Waterloo (or think they did) - 2016
"The French Revolution and What Went Wrong"- 2018

I think I will have to get at least one of them for next year's "Paris in July".


  1. I will give Bryson another chance at some point. I struggle with him and so many of his books so far have been hit or miss for me. What do you love about his writing? Another perspective might be helpful to me!

    1. Maybe you just have another sense of humour, Sarah, though I doubt that. I love his humour but also the amount of information he gives with his books. But I do know some people who don't like him, so you're not alone.

      The first of his books I read was about England and since I lived there at the time I saw so many things I had observed myself and he just made fun of it. That was the beginning of a long friendship.

    2. I thought I was the only one, everyone else seems to love him. I don't dislike all his work, I just struggle to get into some of it. I liked his Shakespeare book and the one on English. Thunderbolt Kid was okay for me but not great.

    3. The ones on English are fantastic. "Thunderbolt Kid" wasn't my thing, either, not as much as the others. I lived during the same time period but in a different country. The other one that I didn't enjoy as much was "One Summer: America 1927", probably too much about sport during that time, though I still love all of his books.

  2. I haven't read this author, but many other similar books. Sounds good!

    1. Same here, Emma. As an (ex-)expat myself, I always enjoy seeing what other people did when they first went abroad. He is certainly interesting when you're interested about France.