In this robust, insightful and hitherto only privately available handbook, Parisian wife and mother Hortense de Monplaisir shares with us the secrets of her survival amongst the English.
Exiled to London for the sake of her husband's career, pioneer Hortense delves into the many aspects of la perfide Albion that have long puzzled its closest neighbour and oldest enemy.
No one and nothing is safe from Hortense's penetrating eye as she discusses a diverse range of topics from the inability of the English to speak their mind, their bizarre love of rituals such as the stag party and the country fete and their passion for long muddy walks, to their obsession with World War II, estate agents and incomprehensible fondness for the traditional English pantomime.
The result is a double-edged comedy: here are the foibles of the English, seen through the jaundiced gaze of a sophisticated Parisienne. Hortense's confident interpretations of some of our best-loved national habits (jam with meat, anyone?) will only confirm our long-held view that the French are, indeed, very different.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 288 pages
- Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
- Publication Date: 10/07/2008
- Category: Social & cultural history
- ISBN: 9780719568473
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Review by riverwillow
An entertaining and novel satirical examination of the relationship between the French and the English. Ostensibly written by an upper class Parisian exiled in London, the book was actually written by an English woman who lived for more than 10 years in France. The slightly condescending tone is superb and applied with equal venom across all aspects of English culture - 'My favourite Shakespeare play is "Hamlet", because there is something almost French in the sensibility of this archetypical modern hero ('sulky' is how Bee put it). However, the play is far too long, with unnecessary details that a more rigorous dramatist would have removed. Racine would have made a better job of it.'