The late John Julius Norwich was a professional writer and an amateur historian. He never had an academic position, and he picked subjects to please himself. Unlike many academics, he remembered that there was a public composed of people who read books of history for pleasure, not from duty. So he wrote to please not only himself but his readers ... The book offers an easy narrative with a wealth of anecdote and deft character sketches. It is, one should say, somewhat old-fashioned: a history of France and the French state, not of the French people, who are generally ignored except when rioting, rebelling or erecting barricades in Paris ... A History of France is a delightful book—engaging, enthusiastic, sympathetic, funny and sometimes, one has to add, quirky.
...John Julius Norwich's history of France has just such a lively sense of play, whether looking at Roman France, Charlemagne or the way the French and English fell into the Hundred Years' War ... There are more than three colours to France's colourful history and this is a delightful introduction to it: comprehensive in its sweep, and intended to fill the gaps that he thinks some readers, particularly English, have.
...the viscount’s Valentine to Francophiles ... You can’t help but be amused as you meet various kings ... You’ll appreciate the author’s Oxford credentials ... No documentation, but in a sly footnote, Norwich quotes Madame du Deffand: 'It’s the first step that counts.' Regarding Madame: Again, consult Google and then—Ça Alors—continue your merry romp through A History of France.