PETITE ANGLAISE by Catherine Sanderson


A True Story
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Expat in Paris creates a blog that ends up dramatically altering her humdrum life.

Debut memoirist Sanderson hadn’t even heard of blogs until the Guardian ran a feature on the popular Belle de Jour, a blogger who wrote about her life as a high-class call girl. Fascinated, the author decided that starting her own Internet diary could be the perfect distraction from her frustrations with a dead-end job, a lusterless relationship and a dwindling social life as the mother of a toddler. Using the nom-de-Web “Petite Anglaise,” she began writing anecdotes about her adopted city with a fish-out-of-water slant. Soon she moved on to the emotional terrain of work, boyfriend—referred to as “Mr. Frog”—and their daughter, “Tadpole”; her emotional candor and unflinching honesty quickly gained her an active following. Sanderson began to meet some of her fellow bloggers and readers, setting a precedent for blurring the line between Internet existence and reality. After one date and one tryst in a hotel with “Jim in Rennes,” she fell in love and overturned her life for him, breaking up with Mr. Frog and pursuing a relationship with a man who knew her primarily through her blog persona. That persona was a braver, more self-assured version of her actual self, Sanderson notes, and it was decidedly unnerving when her blog readers’ postings speculated about her life in terms that suggested it was a story whose plot lines could be changed. The author’s intense honesty is a double-edged sword here. Placing her insecurities in the foreground and highlighting selfish concerns in extreme emotional detail, she often comes across as narcissistic and impulsive. But her seamless, dramatically paced narration reads beautifully, and her ear for dialogue is excellent. Evocative descriptions of Paris are an added plus.

Soap-operatic navel-gazing in engaging prose.

Pub Date: June 17th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-385-52280-9
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2008