Catherine Sanderson has a beautiful bilingual daughter, an authentic French boyfriend, and a Paris apartment with bohemian charm. She has what she has always wanted — a life in France.
Growing up in Yorkshire amidst a traditional family, Catherine had set her sights on a different life — a life that would immerse her in an exotic language and culture. From grammar school French lessons to teaching English in Normandy and finally to a permanent job in Paris, she was determined that France would be the place she would call home.
But now that she does, things are not so idyllic. Catherine wonders just when her life in Paris turned from wine to vinegar: She’s stuck in a dead-end administrative job, her relationship with her boyfriend has settled into a dreary routine, and the birth of their daughter has not helped to reignite the dying fire of her relationship.
The remedy to her dissatisfaction arrives in the morning headlines. While scanning the news of the day, Catherine becomes intrigued by a story profiling an internet diarist. After exploring one blog after another, and in one exhilarating moment, Catherine decides to create her own online persona, her jardin secret. At that moment, she is transformed from Catherine to Petite Anglaise, her boyfriend to Mr. Frog, her daughter to Tadpole, and her life to something she could never have predicted.
What begins as a lighthearted diversion, a place to discuss the fish-out-of water challenges of ex-pat life in Paris, soon gives way to a raw forum for her to bare her most intimate secrets and impulsive desires. Thousands of readers log-on to the blog and are witness to the ever-widening gulf between Petite Anglaise and Mr. Frog. Those public revelations of her growing frustrations, which play out in each successive post, begin to surreptitiously yet irrevocably erode their relationship.
From the Hardcover edition.
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I snap awake after three, maybe four hours of alcohol-saturated sleep. The events of the previous night swim into stark, shameful focus and I find myself unable to move; paralysed by guilt.
Tadpole, our daughter, is chanting. A low, plaintive murmur of "mummy, mummy, mummy..." travels along...
1. At one point Sanderson writes, “Only the other day I’d lamented on my blog how thoroughly her [Tadpole’s] father tongue had gained the upper hand since her most recent stay with Mr. Frog’s parents so every syllable of English I could coax from her lips right now represented a small victory,...
— Guardian (UK)
“Back-story unseen in the blog, and novelistic fluency. . . . Wry and often wise insights into worlds real and virtual.”
— Independent (UK)
“Written with breathtaking candour, it will appeal to existing fans and new readers alike.”
— Daily Express (UK)
“Magnificent for the most traditional of reasons. Sanderson has a novelist’s gift for capturing certain eternal situations. This book could have been called ‘Madame Bovary on the Metro to the Childmonder’s.’”
— Financial Times
“[Sanderson’s] simple, but evocative descriptions of Paris bring the city to life. . . . Though Sanderson writes about her personal experience, she touches on larger issues. Readers will relate to her struggle to find her city, her true love and her calling.”
— The Gazette (Montreal)
From the Hardcover edition.