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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.

©2004 Stephen Clarke; (P)2005 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC

Critic Reviews

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

Delicious!

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!

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Beth
  • Lewisburg, TN, USA
  • 05-17-05

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.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mark
  • San Antonio, TX, United States
  • 05-11-11

One of a kind

A remarkably entertaining story about a young Englishman who finds himself living in France trying to sort out who he is, what he's doing there, and oh yes, how in the world this culture actually works. At times hilariously funny. A captivating and lighthearted listen which I've come back to time and again. The narration by Gerard Doyle is beyond compare.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Merde Beau

Loved it.
This is my second reading/listening to this wonderful tale! Plenty of humor.
Truly, truly beau merde!

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A Quick and Fun Listen

Any additional comments?

A nice tale of culture clash without all the standard "fish-out-of-water" scenes that you've come to expect.

  • Overall

great story that keeps you laughing

this is a humorous story that anyone who works in another country or with a differing culture will appreciate.

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Laughing at the French

An amusing account by Stephen Clarke 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.

  • Overall
  • ItzMeAgain
  • Morristown, NJ, United States
  • 10-05-10

Funny and immaginably realistic

I don't read - hence Audible - however, having listened to this I then read the book - my first read in 16 years. It was one of those books I could not put down until I finished it. It is to a degree reminiscent of the James Herriott series of Vet books. I am now on my second "listen".

I am not a critic so I am not going to go into detailed analyses of the content, style etc. It's a good read if you want something short and that is it - simple!

  • Overall

Unfunny and crude!

I honestly cannot understand the hype over this book. I had high expectations for it when it was recommended to me by a French friend. I'm a French speaking reader who had lived and worked in France, so I was looking forward to a funny and witty read about French culture. Instead, I found myself bored and unable to focus on a story that turned into a British man's fantasy of loose French women. The vulgarity in the book will not appeal to the American public but is rather geared towards British humor a la "Benny Hill" and "Carry On". I found Paul West, the fictitious character boring, rude and with poor work ethics. Trying to convince me that he was an astute and successful marketing genius was simply impossible. This book could have been so much better if the author had a funny bone in him. I do not recommend.

4 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Guilty Pleasure

It's not hard to see why this book became an underground hit so quickly. It's witty, outrageous, foriegn and down to earth all at the same time. I found the author's angle extremely refreshing. Instead of taking a pro or con stance on the French, you can tell the author is merely trying to hang on for the ride. Not since "Bridget Jones Diary" - the book, which is far wittier than the movie - has an author's uncensored opinions cracked me up like this.

This book is definately far closer to an "R" rating rather than "PG" - but the author does manage to deftly brag about his exploits while side-stepping the full out explicits. But the highlights are his adventures dealing with what should have been mundane tasks.

Some books are obviously written by people who studied years to become professional writers. You'll quickly ascertain that this book was instead written by a mere mortal with a great wit who has actually slogged through these adventures instead of dreaming them up.