Sunday, August 24, 2008

#49 - Petite Anglaise

In all honesty, I don't know what to say about Catherine Sanderson's Petite Anglaise. Written in the chatty, blog-like style the writer developed on her enormously successful blog of the same name, her memoir covers a tumultuous period where Sanderson makes sweeping changes in her life. Having spent the last eight years with her partner, whom she identifies in the book as "Mr. Frog," the British ex-pat now finds her life as a working mom somewhat lacking. While trying to reclaim her identity, she starts her blog, and it opens up a whole new world to her. And when a mysterious man starts leaving comments that cut to her romantic core, Catherine is forced to make some very hard decisions about what she wants out of her life.

The writing was all a little too Eat, Pray, Love for me, and for the most part I found that blog-style writing doesn't always necessarily transfer to a larger book format as well as one would expect. The never-ending descriptions of Paris grow weary after a while (Sanderson never met a view of the Eiffel Tower she didn't love and/or want to describe) and, despite her obvious talents, the whole book felt like it was lacking maybe a bit of an emotional core? I mean, it's not as if Sanderson didn't describe her emotions, but somehow reading Petite Anglaise felt like work. If I was truly engaged (like I was with Kerry Cohen's excellent memoir, Loose Girl), the pages would have flown by.

That said, there's a lot to like about it as well, and I'm so impressed with the story behind the book -- her rags-to-riches blog success, how she made a life for herself and for her delightful daughter (Tadpole) in Paris (a city I adore too and would give my right arm to live in any day), and how she gets swept up in a moment that may have not been the best decision, but takes it all in stride, dusts herself off, and carries on with the same tireless spirit she displays throughout the book.

Chicklit readers will appreciate the passion in the memoir, and I'd suspect the package too, with its pretty brown and pinks, the lovely sillouette on the cover. Maybe it's just me and the fact that I love a little more meat in my memoir, something slightly juicer and far darker than Petite Anglaise can provide. This, of course, is no fault of the author and utterly all my own subjective ideas about the kinds of truth I like uncovered between the pages.

PHOTO IN CONTEXT: The book on my kitchen table in exactly the spot where I finished reading it this morning. What you can't see in the shot are the twenty-odd tomatoes surrounding it.

WHAT'S UP NEXT: Marilynne Robinson's Home, which I started this week too and am already loving.

1 comment:

Jonita said...

To be honest, I'm glad that you posted your opinion on this book. It was something that I was considering reading, but I'd heard that the format hadn't translated well from others. I'll pass on this one now that I've heard the same opinion multiple times!