Maybe it was a giveaway remark during aperitifs after work or a clue too many left sur internet. But for a British secretary in Paris, efforts to keep her blog and work life separate have ended in legal acrimony - and a race for her signature on a book deal.
When the La Petite Anglaise blog began two years ago, it was described by its thirtysomething author as a "whim" offering a wry look at life as a PA and mother of a bilingual toddler in France.
By yesterday, the secretary who wishes to be known only by her first name - Catherine - was fighting to set a legal precedent in France and coping with a media onslaught after she was dismissed by her employers, a firm of Anglo-French accountants, for allegedly bringing them into disrepute with her postings. The single mother and award-winning "blogeuse", whose online diary gets up to 3,000 hits a day, has never revealed her identity; that of "Mr Frog", her French former partner and the father of "Tadpole", her three-year-old daughter; or that of her employers.
But management at Dixon Wilson, which has offices in London and Paris offering a "personal service to wealthy individuals and their businesses", took a dim view when word of Catherine's pensées on love and work became known. On 26 April this year, she was summoned before a senior partner and told she was being suspended pending dismissal for gross misconduct. The grounds for her sacking were eventually downgraded to a lesser offence but she is fighting a claim for compensation, one of the first in France over alleged transgressions relating to a blog.
She does not know how knowledge of her blog, which she kept secret from colleagues, reached her employers. "I'm not sure how it came out," she said. "I didn't talk to anyone at work about it. But then one day I noticed from the feedback on the blog that someone had looked at all 200 pages in a single day. I thought it was a bit odd but thought nothing more of it. But shortly afterwards I was called in and told I was being suspended. I was told that what I had written had brought the company into disrepute and given five minutes to clear my desk and leave."
Catherine, 33, a French and German graduate from York who has lived in Paris for 11 years, confirmed that she sometimes worked on her blog during office hours but only when she had been told there was no other work. But although La Petite Anglaise was in part inspired by Belle de Jour, the sexually explicit blog of a London call girl, the Paris secretary's blog is significantly less racy and, as its author puts it, more in the style of a "Bridget Jones in Paris".
Dixon Wilson yesterday declined to comment on its dismissal of Catherine or her forthcoming case before a French employment tribunal, where she could be awarded up to eight months' pay or £18,000 if she wins.
Such a sum could be a drop in an ocean of royalty cheques if interest in La Petite Anglaise from publishers yesterday turns into a firm book deal. At least two publishers approached the secretary yesterday expressing interest in a book version.Reuse content