The blogging world has known about Catherine Sanderson for some time. A British thirtysomething living in Paris, Ms. Sanderson stumbled on the idea of a blog while bored at work one day in 2004, and her life changed. Choosing petite anglaise as her nom de plume, she created her own blog then and there, and cleverly dubbed her French boyfriend “Mr. Frog” and their toddler “Tadpole”. At first, Petite Anglaise focused on her daily life in Paris, recounting strangers’ kisses on the metro, the indignity of a chestnut falling on her head in the park, her daily exchanges with her daughter’s Algerian nanny, the drag of her metro/boulot/dodo existence. Her site grew wildly popular among internautes interested in both her personal story and her unmistakably anglais perspective on life in the City of Light.
Petite Anglaise the book is a surprisingly touching and often hilarious memoir of the author’s life as a blogger in Paris and the consequences of her sudden Internet celebrity. Petite Anglaise the blog drew attention not only from Francophiles and Francophones across Europe, but from a certain English gentleman living in Rennes who felt sure he had found his one and only in the witty but bored Petite.
Their romance upends her life: she leaves her longtime partner (still “Mr. Frog” in the book), she and her Tadpole begin traipsing from Paris to Brittany for amorous visits, and she tells her readers (almost) all. Her Internet following goes berserk, at turns lauding and condemning her choices. Though not mentioned in the book, Ms. Sanderson was actually fired from her job as a secretary at a Paris-based British firm because of her racy entries. Luckily for her, a book deal came calling soon after.
One of the funniest parts of Petite Anglaise is the view of expats blogging about their lives in Paris. It turns out the author is just one of many in a virtual community of Brits and Americans at office buildings throughout the metropolis, waxing poetic on work, food, life, love and the thrill of living in the French capital. Does anyone get any work done? Take a look around the web and you’ll find Paris bloggers in every corner: La Coquette, La Petite Americaine, Polly Vous Français, Eye Prefer Paris. It’s a rich world, and one that continues to grow.
Petite Anglaise still blogs, and has a novel in the works as well. Not another memoir, she claims; the book is about a single British mother navigating “the murky waters” of life in Paris. Don’t be surprised if chestnuts fall on the heroine’s head as well.
Petite Anglaise, by Catherine Sanderson (Michael Joseph, June 2008 in the US)