Let's just get this out of the way, merde is "shit" in French. So this book is called "a year in the shit", which is kind of hilarious and fitting considering the book is about an Englishman living in France for 2 years and trying to learn how to be a Parisian. And look, we all learned a cuss word in a foreign language today. What a productive day!
One of the things that he has a hard time with is alllll of the dog poop all around Paris. He has to take extreme precautions (aka buying tons and tons of crappy shoes that then he would just throw away when he actually has to walk around the city). Did you know that 650 people go to the hospital a year for slipping on merde? Yeah. That's unpleasant.
He is in Paris because he has been hired by a company that apparently deals exclusively in butchering cows (?) open a series of English style tea rooms. It's Paul's first experience working in a French corporation and there is are several things to get used too. He gets distracted by one beautiful woman in the office almost immediately. He is angered by the slow pace that everyone takes.
His boss put him up in an "all beige" hotel on the outskirts of Paris. He decides he wants to find his own apartment but can barely read the classified ads, which makes for some interesting visits. (One claims that it has a dining area, but really you just put a plank over the claw foot tub that is in the bathroom/kitchen). He asks for advice from an American that he met at a cafe and he said the best way to get in a decent apartment is to "get and move in with a French girlfriend". That isn't an immediate option, but he does move into his boss's daughter's apartment because she has a spare bedroom. Does this sound like a bad idea? Oui, it is. Not just because they almost immediately start having a casual sexual relationship, also because there are some illegal shenanigans a foot. If the apartment hunting and living turned out poorly, imagine how bad it goes when he decides he wants to buy a little cottage in the country.
The book can basically be summed up thusly. (Thusly, that's a word right?)
-His boss is shady, actual his whole job and work situation is shady
-He tries to learn how to act Parisian which involves looking kind of angry and shrugging a lot
-Sexual conquests (because of course, eye roll)
This book was funny. It was a light, easy read. It got a little repetitive and it kind of ends cliffhangery and I want to know what happens with the thing he was about to pursue. I give it a low 3 out of 5 stars.