petite anglaise

September 24, 2008

cover up

Filed under: book stuff — petiteanglaise @ 6:11 pm

I don’t think it has quite been finalised yet (there’s the small matter of making the word ‘Anglaise’ more readable which needs addressing) but I just stumbled, quite by chance, upon the paperback cover of the British edition of ‘petite anglaise’ on Amazon UK and thought it might be nice to share it with you.

As you can see, petite has undergone an extreme makeover. The marketing powers-that-be have decided that it’s out with the pushchair and métro sign and in with a possibly-less-than-subtle, curlicued Eiffel tower.

I like it. Because it screams ‘Paris’ and ‘romance’ rather than ‘mummy lit’. Because I love the turquoise-blue background and the embossed tower – to which, admittedly, this rather washed-out jpeg doesn’t really do justice, but trust me, I have a cardboard version. I rather like the cover quotes too, front and back. It’s truly amazing what can be distilled from a five hundred word review by those initiated in the dark art that is ‘cover blurbing’.

Paperback petite is due to hit the shops in February 2009, so why it’s already on Amazon, I’m not entirely sure. But if you’d like to pre-order a copy, be my guest.

September 11, 2008

boss

Filed under: Uncategorized — petiteanglaise @ 9:55 am

The first time it happens, I’m sitting with Tadpole and The Boy in my favourite Chinese snack bar, tucking into pork and herb ravioli while rain hammers down on the pavement outside.

‘Ouch,’ I say, rubbing a raised bump on my arm which I’ve just knocked against the table. ‘Goodness knows what I’ve done to myself this time, but it really hurts! Look, j’ai un bosse, là…’

Tadpole’s face cycles through several possible reactions – confusion, perplexity, amazement – before finally settling on amusement. ‘Un bosse, mummy?’ she says teasingly, shooting a sidelong glance at The Boy, who is smirking into his Shanghai noodles. ‘But don’t you know? Un bosse doesn’t exist! A lump is called une bosse, in French.’

‘Okay, I’ve got une bosse then,’ I say, defensively, my cheeks smarting. It’s not as though I’ve never made a gender blunder in front of Tadpole before. But it’s the first time she’s noticed, or at least the first time she’s decided to call me out on it, pressing home her native speaker’s advantage. ‘You know, I didn’t even start learning French until I was eleven-years-old,’ I explain. ‘So it’s normal for me to make mistakes sometimes. I wasn’t lucky enough to learn two languages when I was small, like you. And the thing I find most difficult is choosing un ou une or le or la because they don’t even exist in English.’

Tadpole falls silent, her face deadly serious as she processes this new information. She may be fortunate enough to know, instinctively, which combination of words sounds right or wrong, but I doubt she’s ever stopped to wonder why English nouns don’t behave in the same way. In fact, one of her most common blunders, just now, is to refer to a chair as a she or a pencil as a he.

‘I see what you mean, mummy,’ she says, finally, turning to face me and putting a hand on my arm – right on my bosse – causing me to gasp. ‘Don’t worry,’ she adds in a reassuring voice, ‘I’m going to teach you how to say right ALL the words.’ She lets go of my arm and opens both of hers wide to illustrate just how many words we have to get through. ‘How about we start with table,’ she says, clearly enjoying herself, now. ‘Do you think it’s un table or une table..?’

On a Saturday morning a couple of weeks later, Tadpole and I are sitting on the sofa in our respective nightwear: ‘ello Kitty pyjamas – she refuses to pronounce the ‘Hello’ in ‘Hello Kitty’ with an aspirant ‘h’ – and a black silk negligé. She’s just finished reading me a story in English, which she now sets aside in favour of a French story anthology. The deal we struck when she came to interrupt me – mid Gum Thief – was that she would read me one story in English, then one in French. She chooses the shortest one, which is about a naïvely drawn blue teddy bear called Pénélope, who is trying to remember the words to a well-known children’s song. I’m not familiar with it, as this particular story book is reserved for French babysitters and occasionally The Boy, if he gets home from work before storytime.

‘Pénélope chante à tue-tête…’ reads Tadpole.

Before she can launch into the song, I interrupt. ‘What does tue-tête mean?’ I ask her, with a puzzled frown. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that before…’

‘Really?’ says Tadpole, as though she can barely believe her ears. I nod, bashfully, half-wishing I’d held my peace. ‘Tue-tête means Pénélope is singing as LOUD as she can,’ she explains in a decidedly schoolmistressy voice, cranking up her internal volume dial to better illustrate her point and eliciting a groan from The Boy, who is sleeping in the bedroom, a few metres away.

‘Right, I see,’ I say, nodding. ‘In English we’d say she was singing at the top of her voice.’

The next time Tadpole uses a word I’m unfamiliar with, I keep stumm, slinking off to my desk at the first opportunity to leaf quietly through my Collins Robert dictionary.

It’s one thing admitting I’m not absolutely infallible. But the word ‘boss’, in this household, is a feminine noun. An adult feminine noun, to be precise. And while I’m quite happy to let Tadpole savour the sweet feeling of superiority from time to time, I don’t think I want the balance of power shifting too far in her direction.

September 5, 2008

Q&A #2

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaise @ 10:14 am

I don’t think it will come as much of a surprise to you if I admit that I’m struggling to find the will to blog at the moment. The infrequency of my posts testifies to that, and if some of my more forthright commenters are to be believed, the posts I have written of late haven’t been of the standard to which my readers had been previously accustomed.

So, yes, I admit it, motivation levels are at rock bottom. I’m not sure why I feel no burning desire to document Tadpole’s funny comments, or the ups and downs of married life with The Boy, at the moment. I don’t know whether this ‘blog fatigue’ is a temporary state of affairs, or a symptom of impending blog burn-out. I’ve certainly noticed a number of my friends in blogging going into semi blog-retirement recently, so it would seem my malaise is very much dans l’air du temps.

One possible explanation for my blog fatigue is that now ‘petite’ is on the bookshelves and I’m working on a novel, I’ve moved on, in a sense, away from the cathartic but patently unhealthy navel-gazing I indulged in before. Another theory is that as writing is my bread and butter just now, blogging doesn’t hold the same attraction. I’m no longer trapped in an office doing an administrative job which taxes only a tiny portion of my brain.

This isn’t a ‘farewell to blogging’ post, however. I fully expect things to improve around here before 2008 draws to a close (my book II deadline), and in the meantime I shall continue to post sporadically whenever the fancy takes me.

And since I receive an awful lot of emails with questions from book and blog readers, I thought I’d use today’s non-post as an opportunity to open up the blog for a Q&A session, similar to this one. Feel free to post your questions below, and I’ll answer the first fifty in my next post.

One last thing: I have a question of my own. Can anyone translate the tagline from the Finnish edition of petite (in stores in Finland in 2 weeks time) “Parississa. Rakastunut. Pulassa.” ?

You can find the marathon response session here.

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