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The Novels of Stephen Clarke

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by Jessica Valls (subscribe)
Professional photographer, writting for fun!
Published January 28th 2012
Despite being born in England, author Stephen Clarke has an affinity with France and has been living and working there ever since.

This British author was not even that well known in France but he eventually became an international bestseller with his first novel.
He stayed in England for quite a while before moving to Paris, where he fell in love with the place and decided to stay there on a long term basis.

His first novel, 'A Year in the Merde', was the book that started his whole career and established him as writer.

Published in 2004, the story features a main character called Paul West. It describes the French lifestyle from the personal perspective of this Paul West guy, an Englishmen who is trying to fit in but is confronted with difficulties with the culture, language and French women.

My mum got me his first book when she got back from a trip to Paris. She had heard of it from a friend there and decided to buy it for me.

I am part French and British, so I really understood the jokes and I could have just pissed myself reading this book.

I have since then read almost all his books and hopefully he won't stop publishing novels. They are highly entertaining!

The continuation of his first novel is 'Merde Actually', which came out in 2005. You will notice the reference to Love Actually.

A year after living in France, our Englishmen Paul West is still struggling. Only now he is having problems with other things. He is starting his own business, as English tea room and is in search for the right demoiselles after having many 'aventures' with French women.

In 2006, 'Talk to the Snail' followed, a kind of essential guide to the French language and French people.

If you want to find out how to say 'Hello' or 'Goodbye' in French, this is not the book you should be reading. But if you want to know the whole secret about 'l'amour', or even learn how to be disgustingly rude to someone in France, everything will be in this guidebook.

With these three already bestsellers, Clarke's wrote another novel about Paul West: 'Merde Happens'. This book features our Englishman, who is financial 'merde'and ends up taking a job to get himself out of this 'merde'.

The job will involve him going to the United States, and driving across country in a Mini (quite ironic) with his French girlfriend and his American friend, a poet, who's only aim in life is to sleep with women from every single country in the world. On their road trip through American territory is when 'merde happens'.

Not long after another success, his fourth novel 'Dial M for Merde' came out. This one carries on where the previous one left off and brings Paul West back to France for yet another 'merde'.

If you have read the previous books, you will know that Paul has had many French women in his life. In this new adventure he decides to call an old girlfriend, hence the title 'Dial M for Merde', who drags him to the South of France, where he will get into a lot of 'merde'.

The novel I am reading at the moment is '1000 Years of Annoying the French'. Simply hilarious. I have never been interested in history, but I know my high school basics, and this book takes me back to that time, except that it's much more funny than it was in high school.

1000 Years of Annoying the French' is all about the war between French and English. For some reason there has always been something going wrong between these two. In this book, Clarke goes through a thousand years of history between the French and the English, giving us facts and real events, in order to straighten things out. Don't know if it worked for that cause, but it definitely worked for me.

'Paris Revealed: The Secret Life of a City' and 'A Brief History of the Future' are his two latest novels that I haven't read yet, but as soon as I am done with this one, I'll get to the next.

All his books have the same humour, but of course come of them are better than others.

If you don't like his first novel, then you can stop right there because you won't like what's coming next. However if you do like 'A Year in the Merde', well, you'll be totally addicted to the rest.

For more information about Stephen Clarke and his books, visit his website:
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