They Eat Horses, Don't They?

They Eat Horses, Don't They?

The Truth About the French

Book - 2014
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"Eatwell reveals the truth behind forty-five myths about the French, from the infamous horsemeat banquets of the nineteenth century that inspired an irrepressible rumor, to breaking down our long-held beliefs about French history and society (the French are a nation of cheese-eating surrender monkeys, right?)"--Dust jacket flap.
Publisher: New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press, 2014, c2013
ISBN: 9781250053053
Branch Call Number: 944 EAT
Characteristics: 342 pages ; 22 cm

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rpavlacic
Mar 02, 2017

A British expat living in France goes through 45 commonly held beliefs about the French and life in France, then in MythBusters fashion (although in considerably more detail) sorts through what is fact and fiction. Some urban legends are easily dismissed as untrue, while others are complicated to varying degrees. One surprise in the book: The author explains the reason why the independent bookseller in France is thriving, while the same is an endangered phenomenon in the English speaking world. A lot of fun to read. As for the title ... hint: Mad Cow Disease.

b
britprincess1ajax
Dec 09, 2015

An interesting concept, THEY EAT HORSES, DON'T THEY? is a good read for those who want to drop the blindfold and see the truth about the French life. A glamourized culture, the French (or, in particular, the Parisian) way of life has been subject to much mythologizing. Now, it's time to debunk a load of it. Piu Marie Eatwell writes a well researched book to combat the tales we've all heard about France on a range of topics, from war to marriage to food to children and beyond. While an excellent read, I already feel I knew too much about the French, so I didn't find much "news" per se. However, I don't think the book is redundant. I think there are many who need to see that special gem of Europe not from afar but in a more honest light under the microscope. I do recommend this book to anyone whose only experience with France is from the star-studded movies.

ksoles Mar 15, 2015

Contrary to the idealized notions created by English-language novels, movies and memoirs, French women actually do get fat. Their children throw food and cry during the night. They don't ignore their husbands' affairs. In "They Eat Horses, Don't They?", British writer Piu Marie Eatwell subjects popular stereotypes to reality and presents France as an industrial power "blotted and scarred with the battles of immigration, industrialization, fast food, overcrowding and mass-market culture.”

Eatwell's decade of living in France has taught her that French children stray from perfection; in fact, a 2011 study ranked them among the world’s worst-behaved schoolchildren, fifth from the bottom on a list of 66 countries. She has learned that three-quarters of couples report having bad sex lives and that exceedingly high unemployment rates afflict France's oldest and youngest potential workers.

So where do foreigners' skewed images of France come from? Certainly, tourist observations tend to be clouded by location bias and, further, outsiders can't comprehend the measures of the French government that create a seemingly utopian society: subsidized high-quality day care, free public schooling from age 3, free after-school activities, discounted public transportation and generous tax deductions and direct payments for multiple children.

At times, Eatwell borders on pedantic and haphazardly ties together statistics in the name of rhetoric but, ultimately, her book makes readers laugh out loud while justifying its own existence. It was about time that someone explained the contrast between the romantic vision of Paris and the reality of “canine excreta on the streets, brusque waiters and dirty toilets."

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