It’s been an hour since I finished reading Stephan Clarke’s latest book Dirty Bertie: An English King Made In France and couldn’t resist the urge to share my impressions on this piece of fine literature with you! But just before I start, I need to make a quick throwback in time.
I first read Stephan Clarke’s sequel A Year In The Merde years ago. At the time I was learning French language and wanted to know more about the country’s cultural aspects, especially, to hear it from someone who was not French. Although, I didn’t read the books in English at the time, I still liked them.
When a couple of years ago I crossed the channel to visit a friend in Cambridge and while book hunting there I spotted a fat book intriguingly entitled 1000 Years Annoying The French by Stephan Clarke in history section. As you might guess, I got overly excited! And even so more when I started reading it… Stephan Clarke’s writing is easy to read, smart and witty. I need to underline the last word witty because I never read a historic book that made me laugh so much and kept my attention till the last word in the last sentence. All that to say how much I like the author and highly recommend his books.
Long story short! This summer, I was at Orly airport in Paris and went to get a physical book copy [which happens very rare as I read everything on my iPhone] and saw the book I wanted to read for a while now: Dirty Bertie: An English King Made In France. I immediately got it and, as you can guess, it was a success! I loved it, it’s amazing!
If you love history, politics [or even if you don’t] this book is for you. It tells King Edward VII’s biography that tells you loads about his childhood, his manhood and international state of affairs in unconventional way. My description might sound boring, but believe me it is not. I learned loads from this book and don’t remember the last time I was entertained so much. My school history teachers were great and I appreciated them a lot, but if Stephan Clarke was one of them, history would be my favourite school subject and I might have been learning history instead of international trade today.
Whether you’re English or French, whether you like biographies or not, I promise this book is worth your time. The author doesn’t simply shoot facts at his readers but gets into human psychology and explores different perspectives on the world history in the end of 19th century and the beginning of 20th. While at it, he never forgets to put in his witty, slightly sarcastic comments which make all the difference!
For some reason, even now, an Englishman who speaks French is regarded as the poshest life form in the universe. You may not know how to open a bottle of champagne, you may never read Proust, but if you can get your irregular verbs right, you will be welcomed into France’s most snobbish social circles as an equal. It can only be thanks to Bertie. The liberating troops in 1944 made English-speakers popular here; The Beatles made everything British trendy; but it was Bertie who made Englishmen inherently chic, and his memory lives on in France’s subconscious.
P.S. I have been quite an active reader lately and every time I come across a book I loved, I always want to share it with others. So, that might be not the last time I post about a book on my blog. And if you happen to have a book recommendation, please share, don’t keep only to yourself! 🙂