WHEN IN FRANCE by Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson


Email this review


A collection of Sinclair-Stevenson's expanded ""bon mots"" on France, the place and culture, from the author of Inglorious Rebellion and Blood Royal. Sinclair-Stevenson considers a mishmash of topics drawn from French places, history, and sociology. He begins with a rather dreary portrait of the Channel ports, then rushes through Paris, detailing how various neighborhoods are ""steeped in history."" He also describes the Loire Valley and its chateaux, and the South, and goes on to discuss French attitudes on sex, food, wine and mineral water; and ""la gloire francaise"" and several national heroes whom he regards as emblematic of the French character. The chapters on history are more compelling than those on travel, with the account of the effects of the Franco-Prussian and World Wars on the French psyche particularly lucid. Sinclair-Stevenson concludes with an entertaining discussion of clichÉs about the French and their own national chauvinism. Nevertheless, he himself presents such an ultimately clichÉd portrait of the French that this book serves only as an apology, albeit historically well informed, for a stereotype, rather than as a fresh look at why France continues to fascinate.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1987
Publisher: Simon & Schuster