Petite Anglaise: In Paris. In Love. In Trouble Hardcover – Jun 17 2008
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“A digital-age fairy tale set in Paris. . . . Petite Anglaise is light, frank and tremendous fun.”
— Guardian (UK)
“Back-story unseen in the blog, and novelistic fluency. . . . Wry and often wise insights into worlds real and virtual.”
— Independent (UK)
“Written with breathtaking candour, it will appeal to existing fans and new readers alike.”
— Daily Express (UK)
“Magnificent for the most traditional of reasons. Sanderson has a novelist’s gift for capturing certain eternal situations. This book could have been called ‘Madame Bovary on the Metro to the Childmonder’s.’”
— Financial Times
“[Sanderson’s] simple, but evocative descriptions of Paris bring the city to life. . . . Though Sanderson writes about her personal experience, she touches on larger issues. Readers will relate to her struggle to find her city, her true love and her calling.”
— The Gazette (Montreal)
About the Author
Catherine Sanderson worked for a British accounting firm in Paris when she began her blog Petite Anglaise. When her employer discovered the blog, she was fired. She lives in Paris with her daughter.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
For those of you who have lived abroad, this is a fun read. However, I was not comfortable with the public deception. Even though the character is not married, she and her long term partner had a baby together and her partner deserved more respect, particularly since this is a true story and the character maintains a not-very-private blog. In other words, I appreciate that we can fall out of love with our partners, but I can't imagine her partner appreciated the public display of her complaints about their relationship and about her feelings for another man.
Aside from that, I enjoyed her descriptions of Paris, her love affair with another culture and her honesty regarding being a working mom.
So she finds a new love, ripe to be showered with devotion and attention. Well, she also has an affair. But the real object of Catherine's affection in the memoir Petite Anglaise is not "Jim from Rennes," who becomes her new boyfriend, but rather her blog, also called Petite Anglaise. Indeed, on a dull afternoon when her various sources of malcontent seem insurmountable, Catherine opens a page on her computer and starts writing. And then hits "publish," and a relationship is born.
This is the first memoir I've read about a girl and her blog. (The memoir "Julie and Julia" by Julie Powell stemmed from a blog, but the author makes only passing mention of it in the narrative, whereas for Sanderson it is a key player in her life.) At first, the blog is a creative outlet and an escape, but it gradually takes on the role of savior. Through her blog, she not only vents her feelings but also experiments a little bit. Like a lot of people, Catherine is a little more clever, a little sassier, a little more adventuresome in her writing than in her real life. Although she initially believes Petite Anglaise is merely a reflection of herself, she eventually comes to recognize that it is more, and as her life develops in new directions - she makes new friends through the blog, breaks up with her partner, and starts an affair with a reader - she gradually begins to question whether she is living through her character, whether her character is controlling her, or just what the releationship between the two -- the real Catherine Sanderson and the blog persona - might be.
Artists have explored the relationships between themselves and their creations ever since the myth of Pygmalion, and the fact that Sanderson uses the state-of-the-art social media to do it doesn't make this an entirely new story, but as blogging and other forms of social media such as Facebook becomes epidemic, it's interesting to think about who we are in relation to our screen selves. Sanderson isn't a fascinating or even always likable person, but she's willing to admit that, both to her memoir readers and to readers of her blog. She struggles with her decisions, and for every time she second-guesses herself, most notably when she breaks up with her daughter's father, she has dozens of blog readers chiming in with their own opinions in the "comments" section of her blog. The unexamined life may not be worth living, as Socrates said; the overexamined life, brought to us by Netscape, presents a whole other set of challenges.
Beyond the questions of blogging and self-reflection, Sanderson simply has an interesting story to tell about life as an ex-pat and young mother in Paris. She loves the city but struggles with its limitations - the daycare situation, the difficulty of finding a suitable apartment, even the dingy appearance of the city of light in late winter - and this memoir is enlightening for those aspects as well as the ones related to social media. Sanderson isn't always a terrific writer, and her romantic scenes border on the Harlequin-esque, but possibly that's the point, to some extent. She's not a great writer but we like reading about her anyway, because she's so candid and so real. And that may be the beauty of blogging.
First of all, I was impressed with the way Sanderson combined her blog postings effortlessly into a woven piece of work that read like fiction. I did recall a few of the incidents I'd previously read on her blog, but now written in a different way.
This is a delightful debut of a story that just happens to be true. The reader is allowed a glimpse behind the scenes, so to speak. I felt the depth of this author's writing was even stronger in her book than on her blog....and her writing on Petite Anglaise was excellent. But somehow I detected more emotion here than on her blog pages. So I was quite wrong to assume "it'll be identical to her blog."
Like the previous reader, I read this in two days. Much like her blog, I found myself setting the book down, only to be compelled to quickly resume reading.
Wishing much success to this author and looking forward to her fiction release.
This was a good book, well written in a light and fun voice, with a good story. It included all of the elements of success, not the least of which was suspense, and left me pondering for days after I finished it. Regardless of what a person thinks of Catherine's choices concerning her personal life in the book, it is obvious in the end that she both learned and matured during the living and writing of her story, and you have to admire her guts in doing both in front of the world. I have ordered Catherine's second book, and look forward to spending more time with her, in a literary sense of the word.