Pretty, blonde Brit Catherine Sanderson clicks and blogs her way into love, heartache and self-revelation in the amusing page-turner Petite Anglaise. Yorkshire-born, Sanderson had always longed for France and, at age 18, she crossed the Channel on an invitation from her French pen pal. She returns a few years later as a teaching assistant, acquires a live-in boyfriend, has his child and lands a welcome, though ho-hum, secretarial job. Out of this landscape eventually sprout tendrils of dissatisfaction with the unvarying round of household chores, childcare and work: "my dream Paris had . . . melted away. . . . Lately I'd become a bitter, resentful shadow of the breathless, enthusiastic petite anglaise I once was, a person I was far from sure I even liked."

Under the cover of an Internet persona, "Petite Anglaise," Sanderson captivatingly recounts the giddy highs and disheartening lows of her reinvention in this narrative that reads like a chick lit novel with a rueful soupcon of hard-earned hindsight. Her witty, frank, tell-all blog quickly attracts followers, all eager to read the latest insouciant installment of Sanderson's ups and downs with boyfriend Mr. Frog, daughter Tadpole and new beau James (an Internet find). But the virtual rubber meets the imaginary road as the boundaries of Sanderson's addictive cyber-life begin to blur into day-to-day reality: new love gets rough, her job is in jeopardy and sobbing into cyberspace can't replace in-the-flesh friendships. She begins to wonder: is all this cathartic blogging helping or hindering her destiny?

This entertaining story is a truly modern tale of self-discovery, embellished with the City of Light (and the strange world of the Internet) as luscious backdrop. The final curtain on Sanderson's tale attests to the eternal allure of Paris: as the author sips espresso at a sidewalk café, she realizes, "I couldn't imagine anywhere else on earth I'd rather be. I'd forgotten how much it was possible to love this city."

Alison Hood writes from Marin County, California.

 

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