Continuing my occasional series of reviewing language books, here’s a slightly less serious one than before – Talk to the Snail by Stephen Clarke.

Clarke’s witty book doesn’t deal with subjects as weighty as dying languages; instead he tackles (as the book’s subtitle says) Ten Commandments for Understanding the French. Through themed chapters such as ‘Thou Shalt Be Wrong’ and ‘Thou Shalt Not Be Served’, readers are guided through how to get what they want from the French.

Helpfully each chapter ends with a list of phrases (including phonetic spellings) for visitors to France to use to get their way. Clarke clearly adores the French, for all their idiosyncratic ways, and gently mocks the national character throughout the book whilst providing handy tips on say, how to get served in a restaurant.

Definitely aimed at the British – a number of stereotypes are used) – the book is a good read, and perhaps a good accompaniment, to any trip across the Channel.