Expat Book Reviews: Fiction

Expat Book Reviews (Fiction)

Book Reviews: Expat Fiction

Column created by Jo Parfitt | Compiled by Shelley Antscherl

Global Living – Issue 9 | November/December 2013


The Expats  Chris Pavone | Crown Publishers (327 pages, $26)

Crime isn’t usually a genre for me, but the title of Chris Pavone’s novel grabbed me for obvious reasons. Pavone, an American, had not only been an expatriate himself, but, like Alan Paul, who wrote Big in China, he was also the house-husband, which intrigued me. And, just to show he was no newbie writer, he also made his protagonist a woman, Kate Moore, who is a former spy living abroad. I have not met any expat wives who used to be spies in my 25 years abroad, but maybe it’s not the kind of thing they’d shout about? Regardless, this was a well-plotted, hard-to-put-down book tackling unusual (for an expat novel) subjects, such as cyber theft and stalking. Review by Jo Parfitt (www.summertimepublishing.com)


Hanoi Jane Elka Ray | Marshall Cavendish Asian Chic (320 pages, $12.21)

 A first novel from an expat based in Vietnam (who also writes and illustrates children’s stories) was published by Marshall Cavendish’s Asian Chic imprint. Set in Vietnam, it tells the story of an American journalist who finds her fiancé in bed with a local troublemaker called Lindy. With the wedding planned, Jane’s awful parents come and stay anyway, while Jane is determined to discover the truth behind the three-timing bed-sharer who has ruined her life. Fast-paced, it has a cast of larger-than-life characters, such as Sigrid, who rides a scooter and knows all the best places to have a party. Together with her new friend, Jane gets tangled in some murky business as she tries to unravel the mystery. This light-hearted novel was a lot of fun. Review by Jo Parfitt


Bride Flight Marieke van der Pol | Portabello Books (448 pages, $12.95)

Originally written in Dutch and expertly translated by Colleen Higgins, this fascinating story is based on real events. It has also been made into a film, which proves, I think, that it’s a good one. Based on what was known as the Bride Flight, this book tells of a group of young men and women who randomly ended up flying to their new lives on that plane. Young, beautiful, Ada, pregnant at 18 by a man she hardly knew and doubted she even liked very much; vivacious, ambitious Esther; sensible Marjorie; and attractive Frank lead us into a compelling story of hope, dashed dreams, unhappiness and yearning. But the expat theorist discovers that it is also a story of young people adapting to new homes in a harsh environment and tells of culture shock and homesickness. Typically, while some embrace their new lives, others cling to the familiar. Review by Jo Parfitt


Sunshine Soup Jo Parfitt | Summertime Publishing (420 pages, $13.99)

From the well-seasoned global traveler and prolific author of non-fiction books, Jo Parfitt, is a new story about expat life: Sunshine Soup. The narrative centers on Maya, who leaves her well-loved and established life in England to embark on her first posting as a trailing spouse in Dubai. For Maya, the loss of friends, job and familiar routines spurns a period of struggle as her self-esteem takes a dive. Coming to her rescue is a small group of experienced expat women led by the incorrigible Texan, Barb. Consequent to developing new friendships with these women, Maya is able to rediscover what it takes to give her life the meaning she needs to be happy and satisfied in Dubai. This is a cautionary tale about the inner strength required to survive an expat posting as the non-earning partner. Featured is the inherent support that the women give to one another, regardless of their individual background, culture or situation. Finally, by including universal topics like family, marital and extra-marital relationships, friendship, loss, teenagers, and delectable food (recipes included) – Sunshine Soup becomes a book for all women. Review by Ana McGinley (www.anamcginley.blogspot.ca)


Sleeping People Lie Jae De Wylde | Summertime Publishing (390 pages, $12.15)

Reading this novel is like being the prying eyes in a twisted tale set in the City of Love, and I closed the book feeling like I had been transported to the streets of Paris. Intrigued to find out who the mysterious ‘Em’ was and how they were so important to the story, I found myself absorbed in the events unfolding and feeling compassion for the characters as their personalities were brought to life and their “he said; she said” tales played out. Throughout the book it was hard to choose the side of one character and stay there. The intricate descriptions of several locations were beautifully detailed and clearly showed that the author Jae De Wylde is a seasoned world traveler. Graphic and introspective throughout, it was great getting stuck in Sleeping People Lie – a perfect escape from life’s daily grind. Review by Kelly Singular (www.burpqueen.wordpress.com)

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