The Secret Life Of France, By Lucy Wadham

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God – or the Republic – save us from both 'phobes and 'philes. For anyone who has despaired of reading a Briton's book on France that didn't retail one set of lazy clichés or another, Wadham's wittily profound mix of memoir, history and analysis hits the spot like a kir royale. She married into France, raised children there, divorced, and now lives – aptly - in the rebel Protestant hills of the Cévennes.

Drawing on intimate life in the hexagone, she balances with poise the linked virtues and vices of her adopted home. From love to war, comedy to religion, her cross-Channel comparisons inform and delight as she relives "perplexed discovery, rejection and ultimate acceptance". Worth the price for her incisive pages on Sarkozy the "sex dwarf" alone.