3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars France from the English point of view
I am not sure what other reviewers expected from this book but surely anything autobiographical is going to be about that person's life and thoughts? If the author is being honest then their actions and thoughts are not going to be palatable to everyone reading the book. To me this is warts and all autobiography and far better than sanitised versions that are often...
Published on 21 Mar. 2008 by Damaskcat
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Petite Anglaise
Petite Anglaise is a memoir by Catherine Sanderson based on her blog of the same name. In 2004, on a whim, Catherine decided to start up a blog about a thirty-something British woman living in Paris. A year after she started the blog in 2005, she left her then-partner Mr Frog (with whom she had Tadpole) for a commenter on her blog. Then in 2006 she got dumped, dooced...
Published on 31 Oct. 2009 by Leah Graham
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars France from the English point of view,
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I am not sure what other reviewers expected from this book but surely anything autobiographical is going to be about that person's life and thoughts? If the author is being honest then their actions and thoughts are not going to be palatable to everyone reading the book. To me this is warts and all autobiography and far better than sanitised versions that are often published.
Catherine does not attempt to justify her thoughts or actions. She does listen when other people criticise her - e.g. her friend Amy telling her that she has been very self-centred and unobservant of what other people are going through. She is aware she is hurting Mr Frog, but knows he is unhappy with the relationship as well. I think it is just part of the human condition to become bored with long term relationships and to want to escape. Life can sometimes seem to be the same day after day. Some people stay with the situation, others choose to bail out - it is a personal decision.
We only learn of our effect on other people as we get older - it is not something which is easy to learn. Perhaps she should have realised her relationship with James was doomed, but it is so easy to get caught up in the excitement and not see it for what it is.
I found this book interesting and enjoyable. If the author had presented herself as perfect I would probably have given up on it. Her failings make her more interesting not less. Set aside your pre-conceptions and read this as an example of the blog to book phenomenon.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Petite Anglaise,
Petite Anglaise is a memoir by Catherine Sanderson based on her blog of the same name. In 2004, on a whim, Catherine decided to start up a blog about a thirty-something British woman living in Paris. A year after she started the blog in 2005, she left her then-partner Mr Frog (with whom she had Tadpole) for a commenter on her blog. Then in 2006 she got dumped, dooced (fired from her job because she mentioned it in her blog) and outed but landed a bookdeal. Thus, Petite Anglaise.
When I started the book I wondered how on Earth I'm supposed to review a non-fiction book. I still don't know so I'm going to wing it! I apologise if my review causes offence, and there's a good chance it might, but I have to be honest and admit: I really disliked Catherine and thus, I really can't say I enjoyed the book.
It was interesting is as much as I enjoyed Catherine's honesty. I didn't like what she did but I admired her honesty. Apart from that I didn't like Petite Anglaise at all. Catherine was just too difficult to warm to - she came across selfish and very self-absorbed. Her treatment of Mr Frog and Tadpole really wasn't great. I couldn't have cared less if her relationship was failing, she should have broke it off before having her affair with James. The way she and James got together was beyond belief. She met him online in the comments of her blog - it sounds so unreal.
There also didn't seem to be much between James and Catherine in relation to their relationship. Sure they talked about what they might do but it never really seemed as if anything would come of it. (And ultimately, it didn't.) I was with Mr Frog when he said that all James had to do was to say the things Catherine wanted to hear. Even when Catherine was with James she still came across selfish when James couldn't be with her (like their day at the beach - they all went out and still she wasn't happy!) She also started picking faults with James as well saying he'd worn jeans she hated to meet her friends. I mean, come on!
What I'd really like to know is why Catherine said she'd like to do the book because many people would pick this up having not read the blog (like me, I'd heard of the blog but never read it) and would think, like I did, that Catherine comes across as really unlikeable. I also wonder about it's true story intentions as most of the dialogue seemed corny and stilted. It seemed fake, and filler for the book, rather than actual conversations had taken place. Catherine's friend Amy confused me - generally when people are cheated on they don't condone someone else cheating yet Amy seemed perfectly fine with it. The cover screams chick lit which in my opinion is false advertising. Some would pick it up expecting a light and fluffy read and what Catherine does is not light and fluffy! I really wouldn't recommend reading this unless maybe you enjoy the blog...
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars just average...,
I am really glad I did not follow the blog first and then purchase the book...because I saw the book as a gap filler! Also glad I got this book from the library and can give it back!
I picked up this book because the cover suggested a light read..chick lit style and I did not notice it was based on a blogger and real events. I read blogs and really enjoy some of them. But I am sorry to admit I just did not enjoy this book.
Right from the start I found it almost difficult to believe that someone of the author's age and with a child could be so fickle and self absorbed. I have a daughter Tadpole's age and while I can sympathise being in a difficult relationship that needs to end, I can not believe that someone could plough headlong into another relationship that potenitally could have uprooted a young child and separated a father and daughter only months after meeting. For a 'real' story it seems to me so unrealistic and unbelievable... If it had been fiction I think I would have been able to relax and enjoy it more knowing it was not really true.
I agree you should not really judge an author and their private life, but in this case it is different for the blogger is opening up their life...and in turn putting it out there further via her book. For me I was not able to find the author sympathetic or likeable. I just found her annoying and felt so incredibly sorry for the continually shunted Tadpole. I was also shocked at the total lack of appreciation for Mr Frog and in particular his parents. Wow what amazing people! I wish I had parent's in law who would look after my daughter. I can not imagine for the same lengths of time (three weeks...OMG!!!!) but at least for the odd long weekend and ocassional week.
The writing style is very easy to read and if you love Paris as I do the descriptions of places and venues are sections that you will appreciate and enjoy. I suppose what I am saying is all the bits peripheral to Petite's life!
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonably well written but parts made my blood run cold,
I picked up this book fully expecting to identify and like Catherine, being a 'Petite Anglaise' in France myself. After a few chapters I realised that the similarity ended there.
While I admit that it's quite well written (if a little stilted and pompous in parts), the book just fails to deliver on any sort of 'feelgood' factor that its pink cover might suggest. Catherine comes across as totally and utterly self-absorbed and lacking in any sort of humour or sense of irony. Frankly, it hardly seems surprising that she experiences a number of failed relationships.
The description of her reaction (read hissy fit) when her ex can't make it to pick up their daughter on a Friday night and she therefore has to forfeit her night out made my blood run cold. I have a child of roughly the same age and cannot for the life of me imagine such a reaction to 'being stuck in babysitting again'.
All in all I found the book utterly depressing.
26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge a book by its cover... really don't...,
The major problem with this book is that it does not know what it wants to be. The cover screams fluffy, fun chick lit whereas the core of the novel centres on the painful collapse of a family unit and its consequences against the backdrop of the author's `career' as a blogger. Unfortunately this sum of parts does not gel very convincingly.
For a start, the author does not have the ability to fully express the depth of the conflicting emotions inside her as she makes a very difficult and painful (but not necessarily incorrect) decision, and this results in her coming across as rather self-absorbed. On top of this, she often feels the need to justify herself, especially with regard to her blog, how she uses it and her relationship with her readers. This leads to rather stilted `conversations' which smack more of set pieces designed for her to defend herself against any allegations or criticism concerning her blogging, her behaviour or both. Finally, it is difficult to create any bond with someone who, in a work of non fiction, constantly reminds the reader that their blog, which is also non fiction (supposedly), is not an accurate reflection of their life, and nor would they want it to be one. Given the obvious pride the author takes in toying with and manipulating her online readership, why should things be so different for the reader of the novel, as after all, this is basic blog-to-book fare.
The very light and throwaway subtitle `In Paris, in Love, in Trouble' sits so awkwardly with the content of the novel that it further alienates the reader, as it is difficult to believe that anyone with a modicum of sensitivity would allow this subheading to become the public and published epitaph to their relationship.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars She's about as sympathetic as Ulrika Johnsson.,
Well she can string two sentences together - but the whole thing smacks of someone trying too hard to justify their life choices. After reading it I felt rather disgusted with myself; of all the wonderful literary choices I could have made I wasted hours reading about a self absorbed narcissistic nightmare of a woman. It's not chick lit, it is actually quite a dark book about a woman who ruins peoples lives after making very poor decisions. Horrible.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A sham,
I don't understand how anyone sponsored publishing of that book?I glanced through authors blog and it is equally unworthy of stopping by. The book is quite a painful proof of a huge cultural gap and misunderstanding between Western European and British cultural patterns and mentality.
52 of 70 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Petite Anglaise... Me. Myself. I.,
I was initially put off by this book's cover as it screamed "mummy lit", but having lived in Paris for several years, I decided to give it a go and kind of wish I had saved my money. On the positive side, I did enjoy reading about Paris and revisiting some of my old haunts but I could have read the Rough Guide for that and saved my money!
I had never heard of Catherine Sanderson, or her blog, and have since taken a look, and was amused to see that she has dedicated a whole post to negative reviewers on this page, referring to them as trolls, and encouraged her little posse of sycophants to hurl all manner of insults in the direction of negative reviewers. Well, I am neither a jealous wannabee, or a frustrated author, I just happened to think this was not a very good book at all!
The book does start off quite well but from the moment that Catherine starts recounting her adventures in blogging, it goes right downhill. I gather she claims that blogging is all about the writing for her, and that she has no interest in people judging, commenting, or offering advice on her life - however on reading it was clear that she relishes the attention and being a mini internet celebrity and totally gets off on it. The low point of the book came for me when she ends her relationship with long term partner Mr Frog and, the minute he walks out devastated, switches her computer on and posts about it. Catherine claims that she portrays herself in a negative light purposely, which is all well and good - my main gripe with this would be that, with a good author, you empathize and identify with characters in spite of, or even because of their flaws. Catherine just comes across as obnoxious, smug, and filled with an overwhelming self regard. Furthermore, I don't really get the impression she has the capacity to reflect on her actions with any measure of lucidity. I also felt really uncomfortable at the way she manipulates the men in her life and her audience to get the response that she needs - it made me cringe.
The only sympathetic character in this memoir is Mr Frog, although I did struggle to believe in him as he is so sweet to Catherine despite her shoddy treatment of him. As a heroine, Catherine is deeply unsympathetic, and James' attraction is never made clear, apart from the fact that he clearly flatters Catherine's ego, and offers her an escape route from a life she is discontented with. Reading about the development of their relationship was quite sad as it was clearly doomed to failure, and a grand illusion on both sides, and one that caused a lot of hurt to a lot of people (although the sex scenes, if they can be called that, did make me giggle, they were so Mills and Boon!)
From the point of view of the writing, I also found this book to be full of clichés - clichéd writing, but also, and more annoyingly, clichés about France and Britain. For someone who claims to have been obsessed with all things French from a young age, I find Ms Sanderson's point of view limited at best, offensive at worst. This is definitely one that will appeal to Brits and expats only, as I doubt the French will find her writing or style particularly relatable. If you want to read about Paris, I would suggest "Almost French" by Sarah Tunrbull, and if you want light, fun, reading, and a likeable heroine, I would suggest Marian Keyes.
17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Self-indulgent, boring pap,
Ugh. Although some of the episodes were well-written and mildly entertaining, one finds it very hard to identify with such a selfish, narcissistic main character. Mr. Frog had a lucky escape!
The cover of the book implies chick-lit but actually all it contains is a study so strongly self-absorbed I was surprised not to be burnt by the glare of the microscope.
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing,
As a reader of her blog, I expected to like this book and was very much looking forward to reading it. Unfortunately, and surprisingly actually, I was disappointed.
The book features many traits of bad writing that 'Petite' has managed to avoid in her blog: cringeworthy dissection of her relationships, clunky prose, Take-A-Break magazine style dialogue, pointless detail. Where's the breezy, stylish turn of phrase, the clarity of focus, her ability, in just a few words to pinpoint an emotion, a thought? Her usually thoughtful, economic choice of words was lost in her attempt to write a whole book.
I almost felt like she knew this too, as fantastic clips of some of her better blog posts are included, as if she needed to prove she really CAN write. Unfortunately, as a reader of her blog, I could see where entire episodes are rehashed and very slightly reworded; disappointing, because it made me wonder if she was struggling for material? Is this really the best she could come up with? Had she already told us all the best bits?
Also, I think I expected something 'more'...perhaps a broader commentry on blogging in itself or something? I certainly didn't expect the bulk of the book to be a more detailed account of her relationship with 'Jim in Rennes'. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a bit curious to know more...but not THAT much! I can understand that it was probably therapeutic for her, but honestly? It really wasn't interesting enough to warrant the time spent on it. It comes across as a bit self-indulgent, but I don't think it was. Perhaps she thought that was what people wanted to read. I think she sold herself a bit short there, as she seems to have far more to offer.
As I said, I really like her blog, so I would read any more books that she writes, in the hope that she gets better with more experience. Or maybe she's just better in small doses, in which case maybe she should stick to her blog and/or short stories. I think one day she may look back on this first attempt, as she says she looks back on her early blog posts, and realise how far she's come.
I think she's got a lot of potential and look forward to reading her next book.
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Petite Anglaise by Catherine Sanderson (Paperback - 1 Feb. 2009)
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