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Humorous analysis of what makes the French tick!
le 1 février 2016
Lucy Wadham has spent over 30 years in France and can be considered as something of an expert on France and the French. This book which is part biography, part critical analysis and social commentary seeks to provide the reader with an understanding of certain aspects of French life and culture. It is well written, easy to read and often funny. I would say that most of what she says regarding the French mentality and ways of doing things is spot on. However, I would disagree with the reasons that she gives for the French behaving the way that they do.
The author argues that the main reason the French have different standards to British people and English speaking people in general regarding such diverse subjects as honesty, marital infidelity, money and basic good manners is due to a Catholic as opposed to a Protestant influence. If this were true, many other nationalities would behave like the French. Ireland for example is a Catholic country and Irish people are nothing like the French neither are British Catholics. If anything, I believe that the French difference in moral standards is more likely due to a lack of any kind of organised religion rather than a Catholic as opposed to Protestant ethos.
It is true that most of the author's experience has been gained mainly in an upper middle class environment but it is also true to say that many of the same cultural and moral standards apply to a population regardless of their social background. If the working class French are less likely to cheat on their spouses, this is most likely due to lack of time, money or opportunity rather than a Protestant or Catholic notion of what constitutes right or wrong.
I think that it would probably take five or six books to correctly analyse the French but this book is a good place to start.