So I finished Petite Anglaise
, the book last weekend. At the book club meeting last Thursday, I was only halfway through and my verdict (some of the girls also follow the blog and were interested in what I thought of the book) was somewhat lukewarm. I found it a bit clichéd and some of the phrases repetitive. I was also a bit annoyed at the many italicised French phrases without translation that I didn't like in the blog, either. Admittedly, you can grasp a great part of it from the context even if you don't speak the language, but it annoyed me still. The biggest disappointment for me personally was the lack of any background info about how Petite/Catherine lost her job, or rather about how her boss found out, who tipped him off. I do realise and fully understand that it was probably for legal reasons that this kind of information was missing, but nonetheless I was curious to find out more, not least because I, too, had been blogging from work in my Coma HQ days pretty much on a daily basis and wanted to know more about the occupational hazards of bored office bloggers.
Now that I have finished the book I have to say that my overall verdict is positive and that I did cry when reading the last chapters, though whether this is due to the literary value of the book, or to the fact that I once more marvelled at how the author's experiences mirror mine (minus the happy ending) is not too difficult a guess.
was one of the first blogs I discovered and started reading on a regular basis. If I remember correctly, I found it on the blogroll of The Glory of Carniola
when that particular blog was still very much alive and kicking. At the beginning, I preferred expats' blogs, in fact I still think that they are the most interesting sub-genre. If you have to find your niche and USP, making observations from an outsider's point of view is as entertaining as it is - potentially- controversial and conducive to heated discussions in the comments box.
At first, I was just drawn to well-written snippets of this young woman's life in a cool city. We're more or less the same age and back then both were in a long-term relationship with a man of a different nationality and cultural background than our own. I could also very much relate to wanting to immerse yourself completely in another culture and language.
Gradually, between the lines, it began to transpire that Petite's relationship with Mr. Frog wasn't without it's cracks. Interesting. All of a sudden - the bomb! She had split up from the father of her child, little later revealing that she had found Mr. Lover through her blog. This blog had long since become my little soap opera (a phenomenon described really well in the book, too) and when I read about the break-up, I immediately called FCN who had become as addicted to her daily installments of Petite Anglaise as I had.
Around that time, I had developed a sudden, entirely one-sided and unrequited crush on a colleague in another country whom I had recently (re-)met on a business trip and immediately put on a pedestal, being very impressed by his language skills, wit and versatile talents. In hindsight, my rather indiscrimiate infatuation (which is not to say that the guy isn't a worthy object of affection) more or less by virtue of being the complete antidote to my then partner, TD, should have been a sign and I should have known much, much better than to hurt TD in very mean and unsubtle ways and nip what could have become a great friendship with the Crush in the bud, by ambushing him with a stream of carefully crafted e-mails, reading secret signs into his rather neutral ones. I cringe in retrospect.
Back then, I was fascinated to read Petite's "real-life" adventures of how her life had changed, showing me that mine could, too. Nothing changed, although in my confused state which lasted well into the summer, I ruined a lot.
By the time Petite had been dumped by Lover, I had developed an infatuation much worse (to call it a Crush wouldn't do it justice) and this time it seemed more than reciprocated. While Petite was smarting from sudden rejection, I was basking in what I took for unadulterated love and affection from a man who seemed on the verge to turn his life over completely for me. Me! My life promised to turn from lukewarm to hot if I only wanted it to. I did and I couldn't believe my luck. In the end, it was me who did the turning over. And me only.
The aftermath of my separation was a nightmare and the mother of all guilt-trips. I turned to Petite Anglaise for inspiration on how to get a grip on your life again, post dumping. She seemed so much more successful than me, a real model. Ready to move on, pragmatic and grown-up, where I was just a self-pitying mess, mistakenly believing that you can convince somebody of your merits by means of persistant negotiation and seduction. Not so.
Unlike Petite, I didn't get fired, but quit my job and found a new one, the regulars of my blog are in the two-digit range compared to the thousands who read hers every day, the book I dream of writing one day has yet to materialise, I am not a mother, nor do I have a wedding to look forward to and yet, I like following her life, or rather her life as she choses to present it to her readers. After all, we don't want the heroines of our favourite novels or soaps to be like us, we prefer them to be larger than life.