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Why France and Britain are so different, and why they do things in opposite ways. A brilliant and vigorous observer of both French and British societies, which she knows intimately, 32-year-old Agnes Catherine Poirier has spent the last ten years explaining the peculiarities of France to the British and of Britain to the French. Not an easy job. Having studied both in Paris and London, writing in both languages for the French and British press, Agnes Catherine Poirier plays with national stereotypes, which are both stupid and dangerous, with dexterity and savoir faire. She goes beneath the surface to explain why France and Britain keep arguing and competing endlessly, why they are so different and why they do things in almost opposite ways. Covering the worlds of art, politics, action, food, institutions, sex, history, media, society and philosophy, she tells us as much about us as why France is a nation apart. Revenge for tabloid attacks on France or for British expats' invasions of Brittany and the Dordogne? You decide. But this will entertain and educate all readers about their own country and whether its 'entente' with La Belle France is 'cordiale' or not. You may disagree with her but you may never see yourself in the same way again.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780753821701
ISBN-10: 0753821702
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 135mm x 12mm)
Pages: 192
Imprint: Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 19-Jul-2007
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions


US Kirkus Review » English society as dissected by a young French writer based in London. Poirier expands on the Frenchwoman's-eye-view premise of her regular column for the Guardian, getting off to an interesting start by criticizing the vapid politics of British and French teenagers: "today's protest has turned into another capitalist enterprise." However, subsequent musings prove to be much less thought provoking, with the author quickly descending into all-too-predictable tracts about Britain's relationship with America, the English propensity for apologizing, the failings of the English film industry and the difference between English and French sexual proclivities. A few passages offer a soupcon of original thought - Poirier finds the English obsession with pets unusual and lays into animal-rights activism - but it's often difficult to figure out whether she's trying to raise a serious point or simply being "overtly French and provocative." Addressing the common accusation that the French are too serious, she writes, "seriousness is not boring; it is existential." Is this intended as humor, provocation or a simple statement of opinion? Poirier's prose doesn't really convey which of these applies. Readers may guess it's the author's actual belief, since the overriding emotion expressed here is love for her homeland. In the author's estimation, France can barely put a foot wrong, and she lavishes praise on some very esoteric aspects of her native culture; at one point, she declares her preference for the rudeness of Gallic shopkeepers over the polite service she receives the U.K. Though she asserts that this text was written "in the English language, for an English readership," it may well prove baffling to non-French eyes. Veers confusingly from the predictable to the deliberately outrageous. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Agnes Catherine Poirier

Writer and broadcaster Agnes Catherine Poirier is primarily a political journalist and film critic for Liberation, Telerama and the BBC.