The Other “Petite”March 3, 2008 at 4:09 pm | Posted in books | 24 Comments
Tags: adultery, blogger, blook, book review, memoir, motherhood, paris, petite anglaise
Petite Anglaise, the book, focuses on one wild year out of Ms. Sanderson’s life in Paris — a year in which she started a blog, overshared about the unsatisfactory state of her relationship, and ultimately abandoned her longtime boyfriend and the father of her child to take up with a man she knew only from his comments on her blog. These sketchy details were, of course, already known to those of us who regularly followed her website. The book picks up, however, where the blog left off.
I admit, I had expected little more from this memoir than a patched-together version of Ms. Sanderson’s best posts: charming anecdotes about her young daughter, wry observations about expat life, and the occasional oblique yet tantalizing reference to the ever-swirling drama of her romantic life. I was surprised and delighted to find Ms. Sanderson’s usual coyness all but eliminated in this format — if you ever wondered exactly what went on behind closed doors and glowing screens as Petite left her babydaddy for an internet stranger, this book will satisfy your every voyeuristic impulse.
For readers new to the Petite Anglaise character, there should be much to enjoy as well. Who, after all, can resist a salacious tale of love, lust, and technology, with all the delights of bohemian Paris as a backdrop?
That said, the memoir, for all that it was enjoyable, was perhaps a little schizophrenic — was this the story of one girl’s love affair with Paris? An object lesson about the dangers of blogging? The sordid confessions of an adulteress? A light-hearted kvetch about young motherhood? Of course, the book is all of these things, as reflects Ms. Sanderson’s real life. Still, it might have benefited the story to have a stronger focus, and let the other threads spool into subplots.
Perhaps this is an indication of my own prejudices, but I would have built the plot around the blog, as I think that’s the most unusual element of this tale. Ms. Sanderson does muse occasionally throughout the book on how easily a blogger can slip from merely documenting her life to actually living life for the blog. If only she had taken these musings a little further, Petite Anglaise could have moved beyond the merely diverting to make a strong and original statement about love in the modern world.
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