When Le Pen won through to the second round of the presidential elections in April, the eyes of the world turned to France and wondered whether the forces of the extreme right were really alive in Europe again. In this timely book, Jonathan Fenby asks what the future really holds for our nearest neighbour. For centuries France has occupied a unique position in the British, and indeed European, psyche – sometimes as enemy, sometimes as collaborator, but always an object of fascination and opinion. Part of this interest is due to the problems we share – economically, culturally and politically – yet despite the common difficulties France is a country in crisis to a much greater extent than we realise.
So argues Jonathan Fenby in this excellent survey of the state of modern France. Taking in all the major themes of French identity and exploring how they have been undermined – from agriculture to the motor industry, smoking to fashion – and with acute analysis of recent French political history, Fenby argues that France is a country without direction; a once-great power now unsure of itself and its place in the world.