Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Petite Anglaise

Although blogs are a great way to make friends online and keep your parents and friends up-to-date with your adventures, it's fairly obvious that the most dedicated (i.e. self important) of us bloggers are sometimes out there just to make a name for ourselves.

Which is why the success of bloggers-turned-authors like Belle Du Jour can be both frustrating, yet strangely affirming.

The latest blog-into-book is the blog of 35 year old expat Petite Anglaise.

Catherine Sanderson, under the nom de souris Petite Anglaise, started her blog in 2004, inspired by the likes of Belle Du Jour (which leads me to suspect that she harboured a certain self-publicist streak right from the very beginning!)

It started off as the amusing anecdotes of a British woman living and working in France, dutiful wife to 'Mr Frog' and loving mother to the bilingual baby 'Tadpole.'

But within a year of starting her blog, Sanderson shifted the focus of her writing away from the amusing expat experience (like her recommendations for working with FFs (French Females) to a more introspective and personal journal. This chronicled the breakdown of her marriage and her relationship with a new man she met in the comments section of her blog.

Her blogging continued it's surprising twists and turns when her boss uncovered Sanderson's candid chronicles - and swiftly gave her the boot (not the first time a blogger has been canned for their online antics.)

Taking her employer to court for wrongful dismissal, Catherine Sanderson picked up a £30,000 settlement, as well as a tornado of media interest promoting her story (and her blog) in British and French national newspapers. It even earned her a place on Richard and Judy's well-worn pastel sofa.

And just like that, Sanderson earned the happy-ending all blogger's secretly fantasise about. The media whirlwind inspired Michael Joseph (an imprint of Penguin) to publish her blog. We'll finally see the adventures of Petite Anglaise hit the bookshelves this June.

Bookish Blogging

Seeing the success of a blogger like Petite Anglaise can inspire conflicting emotions amongst us 'undiscovered' bloggers.

In some ways, it's incredibly exciting to see a fellow blogger make 'the big time' through their online exploits. But it's also rather frustrating to see somebody else succeed when your blog still languishes in relative obscurity.

However, skirting the emotional issues, it's clear to see why Catherine Sanderson's blog succeeded where others (such as mine) would fail.

Writing a publishable blog

Sanderson's blog makes for compelling reading - it's as simple as that.

My blog is pretty unpublishable, because it contains a few snippets of my boring life (painting the nursery and cooing at shiny red cars) in amongst reviews, editorials and completely unqualified opinionating about topics I have no authority to blog about (Kosovo, for example.)

Petite Anglaise has been a focused Bridget-Jones-esque journal from day one - and her romantic misadventures make the desire to find out 'what happens next' totally addictive. Catherine Sanderson expertly writes a real-life, expat soap-opera and we want to know more about her life - even if we disapprove of it.

And it is sometimes difficult to sympathise with Sanderson. Having just settled into my forth year of marriage, I find it rather uncomfortable the way a wife and mother like Petite Anglaise so swiftly dropped her spouse for an Internet beau - although I took no satisfaction in reading about her getting similarly dumped just over a year later.

It's also easy to be cynical about the way she embraced the media firestorm following her dismissal.

Catherine Sanderson made perfect headline fodder, but the beautiful young blond settled into her new role of 'celebrity blogger' disturbingly easily (similar observations have been levelled towards the most famous blogger/author Belle du Jour, who many people think is just the fictional alter-ego of some frustrated London hack.)

But leaving aside my petty prejudices, I can see the immediate appeal of an attractive, intelligent expatriate sharing her romantic misadventures in a blog-turned-book.

Whether you approve or disapprove of the choices she's made, Catherine Sanderson has one hell of a story to tell and if her blog is any indication of her writing skills, it's going to make for entertaining reading when it hits the bookstores.

Petite Anglaise by Catherine Sanderson is available on June 17th from and bookstores.


Kirsty said...

Please don't think they're 'petty predjudices'!
Maybe I haven't got a right to say this but I find this 'Petite Anglais' blog to be SOOO dull.
It's been going for a while, has had an incredible amount of publicity (due to the job stuff), but is essentially no better than every other 'I'm a middle class english mummy' blog out there.
AAARGH! Sorry for the rant :-)x

The Chronicles of a Fashionista in PDX said...

Interesting! I don't think I would ever want my blog to be published as a novel. I would rather just rant in my blog and to become inspired to write a fictional novel :)

Also, I rather enjoy reading your blog! They're very informative and interesting! :)

EmmaK said...

I always found the Petite Anglais blog really boring - I'm amazed it made it to book form.

Meghan said...

I personally feel the envy of getting 'discovered' but also the eye rolling of 'selling out' when it comes to celebrity blogging.

It's much like the pursed lips theatre actors give to others as they make way into commercials and television...