A Year in the Merde

Written by: Stephen Clarke

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Meet Paul West, a 27-year-old British bachelor who embarks on a hilarious and eye-opening adventure when he accepts a one-year contract in Paris. His mission? To plan and organize a chain of tea rooms in the heart of the French capital for an eccentric entrepreneur.

Published under the pen name Paul West, “A Year in the Merde” is a witty fictional account of the narrator’s experiences from September 2002 to the summer of 2003. Set against the backdrop of the controversial invasion of Iraq, the novel explores the cultural clashes and misunderstandings between the British and the French, whose opposing views on the war are epitomized by the stances of their respective leaders, Blair and Chirac.

As Paul navigates the idiosyncrasies of French society, he encounters a host of amusing challenges, from deciphering the notorious bureaucracy to understanding the peculiar disdain Parisians face from their fellow countrymen. His attempts to assimilate—mostly to improve his lackluster love life—highlight the stark contrasts between French and British attitudes towards work, education, and life in general.

Through Paul’s eyes, author Stephen Clarke offers a fresh and funny take on the enduring quirks, foibles and charms of French culture. Wry observations on everything from the power of a well-cut suit to the right way to order a coffee will ring true for Francophiles and surprise those who thought they knew the French.

Insightful, irreverent and often laugh-out-loud funny, “A Year in the Merde” is a delightful comic novel that cleverly captures the ups and downs of cross-cultural living. Whether you’re an armchair traveler or an expat in the making, this book is a must-read for anyone who’s ever dreamed of starting over in the City of Light.

Fans of Paul West’s misadventures will be delighted to know that his story continues in three sequels: “Merde Actually,” “Merde Happens,” and “Dial M for Merde.”

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