petite anglaise

November 1, 2013


Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 12:00 am

My name is Catherine Sanderson.

Petite Anglaise was my online pseudonym from 2004 until 2009. For the first two years, I blogged anonymously about my life in France and parenting a bilingual child. Occasionally an anecdote would feature my (also anonymous) workplace as as backdrop. It was the latter that landed me in hot water, costing me my job.

A French employment tribunal ruled that I had been unlawfully dismissed and awarded me compensation, because writing a post about falling down the stairs in my unidentifiable office and snoring while I was out cold was embarrassing, in a Bridget Jones kind of way, but not in breach of any code of confidentiality. Whatever the rights or wrongs, getting fired was a thoroughly unpleasant experience, and if I could turn back the clock, the “working girl” category of this blog wouldn’t exist.

A number of journalists were regular visitors to the blog, and the story of my sacking appeared first in the Daily Telegraph, then went out across the AFP wire, and travelled all around the world.  Who knew it would be so newsworthy? This resulted in the loss of my anonymity (which I regret) and a bidding war among several publishers (somewhat surreal, to say the least). I pocketed a tidy sum (which I couldn’t help feeling I didn’t really deserve) and took some time out from office life to give writing for a living my best shot.

“Petite anglaise”, a memoir based on the experience of writing this blog, was published in several languages and countries around the world in 2008. I still get a warm feeling every time an email lands in my inbox from a stranger halfway around the world who enjoyed reading it. Sales were respectable enough for a first time author, but far beneath my publishers’ expectations.

I also tried my hand at writing a novel, “French Kissing” (my title was actually “Rendez-vous”, the name of the fictional Meetic-like dating site at its core) which, let’s be honest, still borrowed heavily from real events and was populated with characters based on people I knew.

With hindsight, personal blogging lost much of its attraction for me when I could no longer hide behind a pseudonym, and although after the ink was dry on the book deal I felt obligated to continue updating my blog until the second book had made it onto the supermarket shelves in 2009, my heart was no longer in it.  I no longer felt comfortable writing about my own life or borrowing from the lives of my friends.

These days I have very little internet presence. But, having weighed up the pros and cons, I’ve decided to leave my blog online, intact, for posterity. Readers of my books rather like to be able to visit to sift through the original source material. And my daughter still gets a kick out of hearing the song she made up about splitting her lip just before her fourth birthday.

Above all, if the story of how an anonymous blog once cost me my job is to hang around in the internet ether to haunt me for many years to come, I feel I shouldn’t allow only second-hand accounts tell my story.

September 28, 2009

over and out?

Filed under: misc — petiteanglaiseparis @ 3:19 pm

I got an email from a reader the other day enquiring after my well-being and suddenly realised I hadn’t blogged in over a month.

The truth of the matter is that I’m fine – indeed, we all are – but the inclination to blog, which has been on the wane for some time, seems to have finally left me, and, this time, I suspect it might be permanent.

When Tadpole says something funny or disturbing – such as yesterday, when we were sharing a bath and she confessed she rather likes the taste of her own crottes de nez – I’m no longer overcome by an overwhelming desire to rush to my keyboard and share her words with the world at large. I tend to update my facebook status instead, and I find that eliciting a few brief responses from my friends usually satisfies any cravings I might have for a spot of banter or virtual interaction.

For a long time I put this changed state of affairs down to the fact that I was writing for a living; I reasoned that it was normal, really, to want to do something other than write in my spare time. But I’ve been on hiatus, bookwise, since the springtime, and the desire to express myself in the form of lengthy blog posts online hasn’t miraculously returned, so it would seem that wasn’t the real explanation, after all.

I read an article a month or so ago about Liz Jones, a newspaper columnist who has made a living out of sharing every aspect of her personal life, showing little or no regard for the feelings or right to privacy of the partners/lovers/neighbours that she uses for material. It left a nasty taste in my mouth. Personal blogging was something I felt the need to do during a short, pivotal period of my life but, as I hope I demonstrated in my memoir, I realised, with hindsight, that particular path was strewn with landmines. I learnt some valuable lessons from the experience and will always be grateful for the doors which opened as a result.

But now I’ve moved on.

When my publisher asked me to pen a host of first person articles to coincide with the launch of ‘French Kissing’, I wasn’t at all keen. None of the pitches I sent, somewhat reluctantly, to various newspapers and magazines were actually commissioned, and while I’m sure this didn’t do sales of the book any good, I felt nothing but relief. By choosing to write a novel, I’d consciously taken a step away from tell-all, first person writing. Admittedly, some of the subject matter might have seemed familiar to regular blog readers – single motherhood, expat life in Paris, dabbling with online dating – but every scene and every last shred of dialogue was invented. I found it more enjoyable, making use of some of my experiences in a fictional context, once removed from my own life. Which is why plugging the novel by writing no-holds-barred pieces about my personal life would have felt like a leap backwards.

So. Let’s make this official. I’ll post updates here if I have any exciting book-related news – such as the French translation of ‘petite’, which will finally be published in my adoptive country on November 4th – and I’m sure I’ll drop by to upload a photo of the new baby, a month (or less) from now. I’m still on facebook – both in a personal capacity, and as an author – and am in the process of reviving my long neglected twitter account.

But, as far as personal blogging is concerned, I’ve turned the page. And it feels good.

August 27, 2009


Filed under: book stuff — petiteanglaiseparis @ 2:52 pm

In honour of official ‘French Kissing’ publication day, I just wanted to answer a lot of the queries I’ve been receiving on facebook and by email about the novel’s availability abroad.

As things currently stand, I only have a Doubleday Canada release date – March 2010.

The Penguin UK version should be available in the high street bookshops in the UK, throughout the Commonwealth and in a selection of English language bookshops abroad (including WH Smiths in Paris).

In the meantime, if you are outside the UK and wish to get your hands on a copy, your best bet is probably to order it from the Book Depository – it’s reasonably priced and they will ship it anywhere in the world for free.

I do hope you enjoy it.

So. Shameless self-promotion over. I shall now go back to fretting about what my friends and family think of it.


August 19, 2009


Filed under: knocked up — petiteanglaiseparis @ 1:52 pm

I’m fed up of being pregnant.

‘I honestly feel like time has slowed to a crawl,’ I moan to The Boy as I toss and turn, trying to find a comfortable position in bed. ‘I swear, this has been the longest seven months of my entire life…’

‘Not long to wait now,’ he replies, doing his utmost to sound both positive and comforting.

Officially, though, D-day is still another nine, maybe ten weeks away. And that doesn’t feel like ‘not long’ at all.

I know I should count my blessings. I’m not on enforced bed rest, or suffering from gestational diabetes or high blood pressure. I’m simply twelve kilos heavier, with occasional shooting pains in my left buttock (sciatica) and an odd tingly burning sensation in my left knee when I walk (also sciatica). Getting to sleep at night is a challenge (not least because if I don’t manage to fall asleep before The Boy, I have to work on tuning out his snoring) and I often end up surfing the internet at silly o’clock, marvelling at the veins in Madonna’s arms or chuckling (quietly) at photos of Lolcats to pass the time until I’m finally too exhausted to fidget and deem it time to return to bed.

By day, aside from making inroads into the towering pile of books on my bedside table, developing new television addictions and doing the odd bit of book release related stuff, I’m not really gainfully employed just now. With maternity leave looming, I decided I’d rather not rush into working on a new project straight away. There couldn’t be a better time, I figured, to take step back from the whirlwind of the past three years and give myself the space to work out just where I want to go from here.

But the inactivity is beginning to weigh on me, and Tadpole’s prolonged absences this summer certainly haven’t helped. Since we returned from our family holiday in Turkey, in mid-July, she’s been away more often than not, and is currently with her French grandparents, returning to Paris only a couple of days before she’s due to start ‘big school’.

Without a doubt she’s much better off elsewhere, doing lots of fun activities with people who can waddle more than a few metres without running short of breath. But I miss her. I miss our cuddles in the morning, her touching solicitude (‘mummy, will you be alright on the stairs?’) and the kisses she has taken to planting on my protruding bellybutton.

Mindful of her sometime reluctance to speak on the phone, I decided to set up a Tadpolemail™ account in an attempt to spur her into keeping in touch while she’s away. Typically my daughter’s messages are short, sweet, peppered with the sorts of mistakes French people usually make when speaking English and, last but not least, guaranteed to bring a tear to my eye.

hello mummy

I want to have my bath in a minute and I love to talk to you at the telephone

lots of kisses from

tadpole xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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