I had just finished reading Belle de Jours third book, “Playing the Game” when I saw Kate’s review of “Petite Anglaise“, by Catherine Sanderson. It reminded me that particular book was sitting on my bookshelf and had only been read once, so I picked it up and read.
If you didn’t already know, both books began life as blogs, “Petite Anglaise” being written by an English woman living in Paris about her daily life, and attracted a large amount of visitors quickly. “Belle de Jour” was also about her daily life, but whilst “Petite” was an office worker, “Belle” was a call girl who was very open about what she did.
The book version of “Petite Anglaise” is the story of how Catherine started her blog, met a bloke via her comments section and started having an affair with him, and dealt with the aftermath of leaving her long term partner and coping with becoming a single parent.
“Playing the Game” is, in Belles own words, “a parallel universe for Belle and her mates”. Its what would have happened if she had decided to give up being a call girl and become a typical office worker. Except, well, its Belle, so theres no such thing as a typical office worker.
I had not read “Petite Anglaise”‘s blog before reading the book, but this did not affect my enjoyment of the book. I had read “Belle’s” blog since the very start, and this probably helped in my understanding of the charectors, but on the other hand, since I had read her other books as well, it may not have been needed.
In their own way, both books are very well written. They are in different styles (PA is more of a story, whilst PtG is written in a diary style) and both are enjoyable reads. The only negative part to Belle’s book is that it seemed far too familiar – I couldn’t work out if I had read this book before (unlikely, but possible) or had read sections of it before either in her other books or on the blog.
* Yes, I know that Belle de Jour has a real name, but it feels more suitable to refer to her as her pseudonym in this context.