Friday, August 5, 2011

Review: 1000 Years of Annoying The French

  • Paperback: 440 pages
  • Publisher: McArthur & Co (Aug 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1552789829
  • ISBN-13: 978-1552789827

Product Description


The English Channel may be only twenty miles wide, but it’s a thousand years deep. Stephen Clarke takes a penetrating look into those murky depths, guiding us through all the times when Britain and France have been at war - or at least glowering at each other across what the Brits provocatively call the English Channel. Along the way he explodes a few myths that French historians have been trying to pass off as ‘la vérité’, as he proves that the French did not invent the baguette, or the croissant, or even the guillotine, and would have taken the bubbles out of bubbly if the Brits hadn’t created a fashion for fizzy champagne. Starting with the Norman (not French) Conquest and going right up to the supposedly more peaceful present, when a state visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy becomes a series of hilarious historical insults, it is a light-hearted - but impeccably researched - account of all our great fallings-out. In short, the French are quite right to suspect that the last thousand years have been one long British campaign to infuriate them. And it’s not over yet ... 

About the Author


Stephen Clarke lives in Paris, where he divides his time between writing and not writing. His first novel, A Year in the Merde, was a runaway bestseller in 2004. He has published three more bestselling Merde novels since then.

My Review

Canada of course is a bilingual country.  Except of course in Quebec where they refuse to speak English.  If you speak to anyone in Quebec in English they will ignore you.  Luckily I have a French Canadian husband so he can do my speaking for me as I tend to freeze up when spoken to in French.  He also comes in very handy in Paris where they tend to also ignore English if they feel like it - they usually do. Would I want him to read this book.  Probably not!

In Western Canada where I grew up we learned French in school, Parisian French...not Quebecois French.  We did not have a great affection for the province of Quebec when I was growing up.  I found this book absolutely hilarious.  What a wonderful way to understand the historical significance of the events that have shaped Anglo-French relations for the past 1,000 years.  Clarke covers the Battle of Hastings in 1066, The Hundred Years War, losing Canada on the Plains of Abraham (that was the French losing), Napoleon's defeat and every major event in Anglo-French relations. 

I highly recommend this book for English Canadians! And yes I have walked on the Plains of Abraham and yes I felt triumphant!

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