Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page 129.
- Review Date: 2008-04-28
- Reviewer: Staff
From the moment she started French lessons at her Yorkshire grammar school, Sanderson was hooked on all things French. Soon she found herself a pen pal in Lyons whom she just had to visit, and then an exchange job or two in France after graduation. Before long, she was living full-time in Paris with the French boyfriend (aka “Mr. Frog”) who'd fathered her daughter. The office job that made her French dream possible wasn't exactly riveting, but one day, when she was roaming the Internet, she discovered the world of bloggers. She created her own, christening herself “Petite Anglaise,” and gave birth to her very own “alter ego.” At first, being Petite Anglaise gave Sanderson a vehicle for commenting on the lifestyles of the French; gradually, it became a sounding board for her domestic discontents. Not only was her blog an enormous hit, she also began to enjoy the attentions of one of Petite Anglaise's online fans. Naturally—as any romance reader could predict—she ditched Mr. Frog in favor of the online lover. Sanderson's memoir is compulsively readable, especially since she's jazzed up the basic romance formula with all the issues around blogging, like the problem of Petite Anglaise being “wittier and sexier” than she is. (June)
Her so-called Parisian life
Pretty, blonde Brit Catherine Sanderson clicks and blogs her way into love, heartache and self-revelation in the amusing page-turner Petite Anglaise. Yorkshire-born, Sanderson had always longed for France and, at age 18, she crossed the Channel on an invitation from her French pen pal. She returns a few years later as a teaching assistant, acquires a live-in boyfriend, has his child and lands a welcome, though ho-hum, secretarial job. Out of this landscape eventually sprout tendrils of dissatisfaction with the unvarying round of household chores, childcare and work: "my dream Paris had . . . melted away. . . . Lately I'd become a bitter, resentful shadow of the breathless, enthusiastic petite anglaise I once was, a person I was far from sure I even liked."
Under the cover of an Internet persona, "Petite Anglaise," Sanderson captivatingly recounts the giddy highs and disheartening lows of her reinvention in this narrative that reads like a chick lit novel with a rueful soupcon of hard-earned hindsight. Her witty, frank, tell-all blog quickly attracts followers, all eager to read the latest insouciant installment of Sanderson's ups and downs with boyfriend Mr. Frog, daughter Tadpole and new beau James (an Internet find). But the virtual rubber meets the imaginary road as the boundaries of Sanderson's addictive cyber-life begin to blur into day-to-day reality: new love gets rough, her job is in jeopardy and sobbing into cyberspace can't replace in-the-flesh friendships. She begins to wonder: is all this cathartic blogging helping or hindering her destiny?
This entertaining story is a truly modern tale of self-discovery, embellished with the City of Light (and the strange world of the Internet) as luscious backdrop. The final curtain on Sanderson's tale attests to the eternal allure of Paris: as the author sips espresso at a sidewalk café, she realizes, "I couldn't imagine anywhere else on earth I'd rather be. I'd forgotten how much it was possible to love this city."
Alison Hood writes from Marin County, California.