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on 31 May 2008
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.
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on 31 March 2008
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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on 2 July 2009
This was a great book. I can see how it wouldn't be everyones cup of tea, but I thought Catherine was frank and honest and maybe some can't handle that?

I have three boys and have been through two divorces, so I totally saw where Catherine was coming from. When she had her 'hissy fit' about having to look after tadpole, I think that is a true reflection on how some women feel at times but they are too scared to admit it for fear of retribution.

I think she should be applauded for standing up and saying how it is for her, and for many women like her. I for one totally recommend the book, put your predjudices to one side and enjoy it!
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on 15 March 2008
I was excited with anticipation to read this book but what I was left with was a bad taste in my mouth. I have never read such a self-absorbed account of someone who just tore other peoples lives apart with no thought to the consequences. I winced at times reading this in utter shock that someone would be so immature as to think that putting this on paper would somehow make them a writer. I was embarrassed for the writer and came away thinking of how I did not like her, her so-called motives, her choices, or the way she justified basically ripping peoples lives apart. No one begrudges someone in a bad marriage who wants to get out, but the writer is immature, self absorbed, and basically selfish; which made the book a very uncomfortable and unpleasent read.
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on 17 March 2008
Autobiography of a woman in a dull marriage who discovers blogging and turns her own life into soap opera just to have something to write about - "I've been struggling to hold everyone's attention since James jumped ship." (page 326) It just doesn't occur to her that she's not manipulating with fictional characters but with real people, including her daughter. It leaves a sad aftertaste in your mouth after reading.
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on 26 September 2013
This book made me very sad for her and for her family. It seems that she gave up on them without so much as a fight!
If you are looking for a light read this is not it.
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on 1 April 2008
I didn't know the Petite Anglaise blog, and so came to the novel as a virgin, not being familiar with Mr. Frog et al. I found the storyline quite amusing - an easy pleasant read. I was, however, a bit taken aback by the heroine's self-love, and her rather calculated disregard of others. She gets bored with her long-time partner and falls in love with another man. But only a few pages in she finds fault with the new lover as well. Doesn't like his jeans, not smart enough, pays too much attention to his kids, not enough to her, he's too English... you name it. Nobody can live up to her own wonderfulness. Another weakness is the really feeble dialogue along the lines of "Okay, I know this is hard but let' not make it more difficult" etc. which is a bit tedious. Still, as I say, the novel prattles on pleasantly enough, and as the papers have already called it the new Bridget Jones, we will just have to wait for the film to pop up soon.
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on 12 February 2010
I picked this book up in a charity shop, woefully misled by the pretty cover to believe that this was infact chicklit. Erm, actually its not. Like a few other reviewers I'm honestly not sure what genre this book wants to be, but I read it anyway and I did enjoy it- I finished it anyway. One thing I found difficult though was to muster up any sympathy for Catherine herself- which I think she was aiming for but failed miserably; but I'll let you make your own mind up.

The book follows the true-life exploits of Francophile blogger Catherine, obsessed with France since a teen and always determined to live there one day. And she does. Happily ensconced in Paris with her french boyfriend 'Mr Frog' and adorable toddler daughter 'Tadpole' she catalogues her life in France from an English woman's perspective and hence, Petite Anglaise is born. Only Catherine isn't wholly satisfied with her life afterall, and after an encounter and emails with one of her blog commenters 'Jim from Rennes' she starts to wonder if maybe there should be more to life than what she presently has, and so her world, and the world of those around her is turned upside down.

I never read the Petite Anglaise blog, which is maybe why I felt the book to be dry in places. Catherine also came across as very selfish- neglecting both her work and even her daughter at times to meet 'Jim.' She also admits that at times she exaggerated her blog to make her stories funnier, and alas it got me wondering just what was true in this book and what wasn't. Unlike other books I've read about Paris, this one made it appear a bit seedy unfortunately as there was deceit and misery through most chapters- it's a good thing I've been there and know better! Nevertheless, I think this book would make a good beach read, just don't hold out for a fairytale chicklit romance.
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on 6 July 2009
The novel is a real-life story about an English woman who relocated to Paris and lives there with her partner and their young daughter. She starts a blog, and slowly her life begins to change as she falls in love, giving her the incentive to step away from an increasingly dried up relationship with the child (her `Tadpole')'s father, named Mr Frog on her blog.

The difficulty with reviewing this accurately on my part is that, I read the blog. I stumbled on it after most of this had happened but the fact remains that, by reading the blog, I am automatically fond of the character of Petite Anglaise in an entirely different way than the way I approach authors, even authors whose stories I often like. Knowing someone, even a little, on a blog makes reading something they've written more intimate, regardless of whether it be fact or fiction. In this novel, too, I was overwhelmed by a sense of context.

The story is good, sweet, funny, sad, and charming. To a reader coming straight to the book all they see is the information presented there- and the story they read is very different, in a sense, to the one I read. For example, I knew how the relationships would turn out- because I'd read the blog. I also knew things that weren't included in the book, because they were part of another story. The author was unlawfully dismissed from her job after her boss discovered her blog. This is not a secret to the world, indeed, it was reported quite widely and was known amongst the blogging sphere. However, none of this- and the subsequent fall-out- is mentioned in the book, because the book is a different sort of story. But because I know this happened, every time the lady in the book went to work, I interpreted every smile on the Boss' face- and every frown- as a forewarning. Every time she replied to a personal email at work, or took a day off to visit a house, or to go to visit James- the context bell chimed in my head. This did not make the book any less good for me. In fact, it probably made me like it more-because I knew some of the story, though not all because the blog, like all blogs, had been censored whilst certain things were happening.

Because of this, I cannot give a review that could truthfully tell you how good this book is on its own, sans context. With context, it is a lovely, interesting, absorbing read.
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on 11 November 2010
I spent an hour or two looking at the blog. Don't need to read the book. Extreme narcissism, total absence of self-awareness and complete indifference to the feelings of others. I feel sorry for her daughter.
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