Book reviews

I review books dealing with expatriation and life abroad. I also write children's book reviews. If you wish a book or your book to be reviewed, feel free to contact me.

Table of content

 

Nathalie Desormeaux - Une Saison Japonaise - 2013

At the end of the seventies, Sophie, an executive in her thirties, learns that her partner has accepted a new job in Japan. Then she get hired to audit a Japanese branch of a clothes company in Tokyo. But nothing happens as easily as she thinks. She finally finds herself alone at work and « at home » to discover and to understand her new environment.

Trough the character of Sophie, the reader comprehends her ambivalent feelings and her state of mind. Without realizing it, she is going through all the steps of culture shock : the honeymoon phase that is short and almost nonexistant for her; the critic phase that is lasting all along the book (resentment towards Pierre, cultural inability to understand); the adjustment phase beginning with Hélène, her interpreter, and then the adaptation phase, starting at the end of the story.

While reading this book, I discovered Japan through the eyes of Sophie. One understands that Nathalie Desormaux likes this country very much because the descriptions are well written with a lot of specific details. Despite some monotonous parts at the end of the novel, this book was pleasant to read. I believe expat active women will find themselves in it, especially if they work in Asia.

Nevertheless (and this is a minor aspect of the book), the author describes in a rather simplistic way expat women by slitting them between those who work (the businesswomen like Sophie) and the idles (like the character of Florence Maurois) who spend their days to look for rare food or decorative items. In her defense, the author situates her novel at the end of the 70s although it was clearly mentioned only on the back cover. Finally, one can ask oneself if things have really changed a lot in the women expat world ?

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 30/04/2015. Copyright © 2015 Writer Forever.


Kristin Louise Duncombe - Trailing: A Memoir - 2012

Trailing: A Memoir by Kristin Louise Duncombe is poignant, lively but also very realistic. As usual, everything starts with a love story : Kristin, just graduated, fall in love with an Argentinian medical doctor working for Doctors without Borders.

Sent overnight to Nairobi, Kenya, she has to face several culture shock : to adapt herself to her new environment, to understand and accept the community life with the MSF team as well as the questioning of her own identity. Things could have evolved positively if Kristin and her husband wouldn’t have experienced a very traumatic experience : a car highjack with a violent agression. This event propels the narrator in a very high state of anxiety, which will spoil every sphere of her private and professional life.

Written as a novel, it is difficult to put down this book as we want to know what Kristin feels, does or decide in the next chapter. She describes with many details the accompanying spouses’ ambivalent feelings when their identity is challenged by the expat way of life. Kristin Louise Duncombe’s experience is extreme and unique. But I am sure that a lot of accompanying spouses will find themselves in a way or another in this overwhelming testimonial.

I recommend deeply to those who are going to move in a poor and developing country to read this book.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 30/04/2015. Copyright © 2015 Writer Forever.


Simon French - Un endroit où grandir - 2006

Ari is a young german boy gifted for music and the violin in particular. Several years after the death of his father, her mother settles in Australia where she starts a new life.

Ari struggles to settle. The distance with her grandfather is hard but this is the death of this latter without having seen him again that is the most difficult for Ari, especially as it was the old man who taught him violin.

This very well written novel will delight readers aged 12 years and more. The story is told at the first person making the the main character more realistic and closer to the reader. The topics of absence and separation are dealt with keenness.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 30/04/2015. Copyright © 2015 Writer Forever.


Kay Haugaard - Myeko’s gift - 1966

Published for the first time in 1966, this children novel is a gem and is as young as ever. Miyeko is Japanese and must leave her country to live definitively in the United States with her parents. A new life start for her and her family. It is hard for Myeko who is homesick and has trouble to make new friends.

I like this book very much because the author describe perfectly Myeko’s feelings : her up and downs, her will but also her difficulties to make friends, her determination to adopt the American culture and her temptation to hide her japanese culture. Yet, this is thanks to her roots she will become integrated with her classmates. A nice moral for our Third Culture Kids !

At the end of the book, you will find a glossary of japanese words that will held the young reader to better understand the Japanese culture.

A novel for children from 9-10 years old.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 30/04/2015. Copyright © 2015 Writer Forever.


Delphine Joëlson Marteau - L'expatriation au féminin - 2013

After 14 years of multi-expatriation around the world, Delphine Joëlson Marteau shares her experience and her thoughts on life abroad.

If like me, you are a serial-expat, you won’t learn a lot about expatriation with her book. Nevertheless, it is the perfect one for those who are going to live abroad for the first time with their family. The author reviews all the steps and the topics that make the daily life of expat spouses.

The pros of this book

  • Concis and specific, it goes straight to the point. Ideal for first time expat!
  • Easy and fast reading (only 111 pages) just before the departure, it can be slipped easily in your heavy luggages so you can read it again once arrived to your new destination.
  • It establishes a very realistic picture of the accompanying spouse community and warns against the main challenges for accompanying spouses.

The cons of this book

  • The author doesn’t give any references (sources, books, websites) neither during the course of her book neither at the end to help the readers to go further in their reflexion.
  • The author uses the term « expat wives » all along the book. She warns at the beginning of the book that the use of this expression « (…) arouses condescending attitudes not always in a very kindly manner ». Knowing it, I would have preferred she uses a more enhancing term or expression.

I recommend the reading of L’expatriation au féminin to all accompanying spouses going abroad for the first time. Nevertheless, do not limit yourself to this book, especially as it exists a growing literature about expatriation in French and English.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 16/02/2015. Copyright © 2015 Writer Forever.


Larry Gets Lost in Chicago by John Skewes and Mickael Mullin - 2010

Larry is a dog discovering Chicago with its little owner, Peteand his parents. But after trying to taste to one of the city food specialties, Larry and Pete are separated. Through their quest to being reunited, the reader discovers the main Chicago attractions.

I recommend this picture book because the illustrations, even if simple, are beautiful and very efficient. The story will make smile either young or older readers. Moreover each milestones visited by the main characters are completed by vignets giving detailed information about the sites. This book is done for the young tourists, who wish to keep alive their visit in the windy city. But this book is also a must-have for expat children who want to keep a dynamic and happy memory of the city, which would have been their “home” for a couple of years.

And if you are not living or visiting Chicago, don’t be jealous. The authors, John Skewes and Mickael Mullin, have created a series. You will then also find Larry Gets Lost in Los Angeles, Larry Gets Lost in New York City, Larry Gets Lost In San Francisco, Larry Gets Lost in Seattle, Larry Gets Lost in Boston… Just make your choice!

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 01/02/2012. Copyright © 2012 Writer Forever.


Andrea Martins, Victoria Hepworth - Expat Women: Confessions - 50 answers to your Real-Life Questions - 2011

After 12 years of living abroad and the reading of numerous books on the topic, I wondered what I was going to really learn by reading Andrea and Victoria’s book. I was wrong. This book is impressive.

I particularly like how each key topic dealing with relocation abroad (settling, career, raising children, relationships, emotions and repatriation) are assessed. For each of them, lots of under topics are explored thanks to questions asked by readers of the ExpatWomen website. Andrea and Victoria answer them in a very objective and systematic way. They point out the positive and negative sides and then orient properly the readers. But they always remind them that the final decision is theirs.

Besides very detailed advice about how to raise children abroad, start a new business or divorce abroad, the tone of the whole book is very positive, engaging the reader to go further. Written as posts for a blog, the readers can go directly to chapters or under chapters that interest them according to where they are within the relocation process.

This book is then a practical book for expat women (accompanying spouses or employees). They will find very detailed advice from two expat expert women who know what they are talking about. Andrea is the co-founder and director of the ExpatWomen website and lived in Indonesia and Mexico. She is currently based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Victoria Hepworth holds a master of arts in psychology, lived in Japan, China, Russia, Sweden, and India. She currently lives in the United Arab Emirates.

If expatriation is around the corner in your life, this book is for you.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 01/07/2011. Copyright © 2011 Writer Forever.


Simone T. Costa Erikson, Anna Serra - The Mission of Detective Mike Moving Abroad - 2010

That is the story of Mike. He has noticed his parents are whispering all the time. Understanding that something is going on, he decides to investigate. He finds out that his family is going to move abroad.

This story is probably your child’s one. It is written from his point of view. In less than fifty pages, the authors ask all the questions a young child is going to ask after learning that s/he is going to move abroad. How is the country/the city where we are going to live? What is going to happen to my things? And my friends, will they forget me? How am I going to make me understand in this new country? And our house, can we take it with us? A lot of mysteries that Mike will resolve one after one. It allows him to go past his fears and to deal positively with it.

Nicely illustrated, this book target children on the move but also their parents. They will be able to answer their questions and allay their children’s fears. They will easily empathize with Mike because it is never specified where he is going to move.

A very useful book to prepare your next move abroad with your children!

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 29/05/2011. Copyright © 2011 Writer Forever.


Gaëlle Goutain et Adelaïde Russell - Le conjoint expatrié. Réussissez votre séjour à l'étranger - 2011

You might already know Gaëlle Goutain and Adelaïde Russel for their previous book: L’enfant expatrié. Accompagner son enfant à travers les changements liés à l’expatriation. In their last book published in February 2011 by L’Harmattan, they deal with the expat spouse.

They analyze three key elements that are transformed during expatriation: identity, couple and work. Each of them is systematically studied from a theoretical point of view (psychology, sociology, history, economy, philosophy, etc …). Then the authors explain in what each of them are changing while living abroad. Gaëlle Goutain and Adelaïde Russell stress out the drawbacks from expatriation but also all the advantages on long terms. Finally, they advice the reader about how s/he can benefit from changes at the different steps of expatriation (before, during and back to the home country). The book ends with interviews of expat spouses who succeed personally and professionally.

I have really enjoyed reading this book. I will probably read it again before my next move abroad. I would have dreamed that somebody gave me such a book when I started to be an expat spouse in 1999, mainly because the authors introduce expatriation as a unique opportunity without hiding the challenges. The result is a very positive point of view about expatriation. They demonstrate that the solutions are first inside us and that we must become the main actor of our expat life. They reassert the value and the image of the expat spouse.

This book will make you spare ten years if you start your expat life now. It will put you right away on the good track if you leave abroad just for once. Don’t wait anymore, buy this book and talk about it to all the expat and HR people you meet.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 29/04/2011. Copyright © 2011 Writer Forever.


Lucie Werther - Journal d'une française en Arabie Saoudite - 2005

Lucie Werther arrived in April 2003 in Saudi Arabia. She followed her husband who worked there for a private company. She stayed for two years.

Right away, the author introduces us to the reality of her future life with her purchase of the abaya. This shapeless black long dress covers the body from head to toes and she had to wear it as soon as she was going out of her home. Pages after pages, she makes us discover her new environment: the separation between men and women, the status of Saudi Arabian women and their underworld, the importance of Islam in the daily life.

Trough her experience, the persons she met and small anecdotes, Lucie werther gives us a unique testimonial about this much unknown country. People and families who plan to live in Saudi Arabia will learn a lot about local customs or the advantages and drawbacks of living within a compound.

This book is a must-read for all those who plan to live a few years in Saudi Arabia.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 30/03/2011. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever.


Robin Pascoe - A Moveable Marriage. Relocate Your Relationship Without Breaking It - 2003

Like all her other books, Robin Pascoe’s Moveale Marriage is exciting and funny.

In this one, the author analyses the impact of international relocation on couples. Expatriation means change, and change has deep consequences on children, trailing spouse but also on marriage. This last one must be very strong if you want your relocation to be a success. Robin Pascoe analyses then moveable marriages under all aspects. Topics such as isolation, dependence, money, sex and intimacy are explained in an international setting. The author also deals with key topics such as the role of the company (which assign the couple and family abroad) towards the trailing spouse, dual career challenges and divorce. At the end of each chapter, she gives practical tips to make the best of your experience abroad as a couple.

I particularly enjoyed reading some parts of Robin’s book especially the one about dual career challenges. She pushes the reader to ask herself the right question like “What means success? What does it mean to be successful professionally?” The chapter about money, sex and intimacy is also particularly interesting.

This book will be very useful to intercultural marriage or women engaged in a relationship that involves a move abroad. Finally, I recommend this book to any couples because it deals with relationships between men and women.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 03/02/2011. Copyright © 2011 Writer Forever.


Robin Pascoe - A Broad Abroad. The Expat Wife's Guide To Sucessful Living Abroad - 2009

"A Broad Abroad" is a practical guide for women following their spouse abroad for professional reasons.

The author, Robin Pascoe, deals with the main topics and problems that emerge in the life of those we call the accompanying spouses or partners. The practical but also the emotional aspects of expatriation are explained and followed by useful advice. With a lot of humor and numerous anecdotes, the author explains the emotional phases of cultural shock, the loss of identity, but also the guilt and resent feelings that are part of the expat women daily life. Robin Pascoe also deals with the main question that accompanying spouses are questioning themselves with, that is to say their personal and/or professional project. Other topics such as the yearly home leave, repatriation and household help are studied with objectivity and realism.

This book will be very useful to those who experience expatriation for the first time as well as those who are already seasoned expat. The first ones will keep this book within easy reach in order to tackle each step of their move and stay abroad. The second ones will find in in it some pieces of their own life and story but also answers to questions they have probably asked themselves thousands of times. In other words, the readers will feel less lonely while facing with culture shock. Finally, they will also understand that all the process and their feeling are normal.

"A Broad Abroad" is then a reference book for the expat community (women and men). A book to read and read again as well as to make read!

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 03/01/2011. Copyright © 2011 Writer Forever.


Danielle Barkhouse - The Expat arc. An expat's journey over culture shock - 2008

When Danielle Barkhouse learned at the end of 2006 that she was going to move to Chennai in India, she decided to start a blog to keep her family and friends up to date with this new move abroad. The blog finally became a book titled « The Expat Arc ». The author wrote about her family daily life in India. It starts with the official announcement of their assignment abroad and ends one year later in Chennai, the capital of the Tamil Nadu State in South India.

All along the book, the reader can follow Danielle with her roller coaster of emotions. With lots of details and humor, the author explains her accompanying spouse daily life under the tropics. This life is made with happy and less happy moments. Its content is enhanced with numerous pictures and internet links that make the book a must read for all those who wish to settle or travel in India.

« The Expat Arc » is a colorful testimonial on culture shock when relocating in developing countries. Families who contemplate to live in India will be able while reading this book to understand and anticipate what such an experience is.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 30/11/2010. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever.


Natalie Tollenaere - L'art des possibles. Créer son chemin dans une vie internationale mobile - Summertime Publishing (2010)

The art of possibilities from Natalie Tollenaere is a self-help book targeting expats who wish to transform life abroad in a positive and constructive experience. The book will also be very useful for people willing to make change in their life.

The author wants to help the reader to transform the challenges of expatriation into opportunities. For this purpose, she suggests to follow seven steps (the seven chapters of the book). Each step is described and contained systematically a creative exercise named “creative reflection”. The four first steps are essential. They allow the reader to assess key topics (identity, values, priorities, passions) which will allow to rebuild him/her and to start anew on good basis. The last three steps (dream, help, and celebration) are methods aiming to keep the reader on the tracks of his/her new life project. The exercises complete each step and allow the reader to have a very concrete view of his/her ongoing project.

I particularly enjoyed this book for two main reasons:

  • Each step is illustrated by the testimonials from the expat author or others expats. The reader understands he/she is not alone.
  • Each exercise is clearly explained and does not required art skills. They help the reader to visualize each step of the project.

Educational and practical, the art of possibilities from Natalie Tollenaere is an original approach of coaching: it is art and creative coaching. You can buy Natalie’s book on Amazon.com. It is available either in French or in English.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 31/10/2010. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever.


Jo Parfitt - A Career in Your Suitcase - Bookshaker (2008)

A Career in Your Suitcase is a practical book that shows it is possible to develop a portable career based upon our own passions, motivations and skills if you are an accompanying partner.

After setting the scene of dual career spouses, the author devote the three following chapters of the book to coach the reader. She invites him/her to do a deep self-assessment. Thanks to exercises, she helps him/her to determine what his/her passions are while giving practical examples of portable careers. Jo Parfitt puts the emphasis on the idea of flexibility to which every people wanting to expatriate should stick to. She insists all along the book that it is necessary to have conscious of our motivations, values and skills to be able to re-evaluate them at each new relocation. If we do so, it will be easier to adapt our professional project locally and globally. After the coaching parts, the author gives practical advice to make it happen: how to network, how to get a job abroad, how to start a portable business, how to balance private life and working life when working from home, etc...

If your identity is deeply linked to your professional activity and you have to give it up to follow your spouse abroad, this book is made for you. The chapters dealing with self-assessment are efficient. The personal involvement of the author who explains with details her own experience is invigorating. Nevertheless some chapters dealing with practical aspects such as networking or looking for a job might seem obvious and then useless for some readers. But at least they are clearly and consistently outlined.

So before leaving for a new relocation, put A Career In Your Suitcase in your luggage. Indisputably this book will help you to better cope with this new step of your personal and professional life.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 29/09/2010. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever.


Heidi Vaughan - Diary of an Oil Expat Family - Writers Club Press (2001)

In “Diary of an oil expat family”, Heidi Vaughan, married and mother of two children, wrote about her daily life when settling in Stavanger, Norway.

Her husband worked for an oil company, Conoto. After having lived and worked in Chicago and then Houston, the whole family left for a new adventure in the country of Vikings. Her book started on February 28, 1998 few days before the great departure and it ended on March 1, 1999 after one year of expatriation in Norway. The reader discovers through her diary the evolution of her feelings: after the honey moon, the storm arrived and then a break in the roller coaster of her emotions. Heidi Vaughan does not only explain her own experience. This adventure is the one of a couple and its two young children. She writes about the difficulties of learning Norwegian, the hard adaptation to cold climate, the discovery of a new culture and different traditions, and finally the way Norwegian kids are raised. « Diary of an oil expat family » is then a very good example of testimonials on cultural shock during expatriation. Families who contemplate to live abroad will be able while reading this book to understand and anticipate what such an experience is. In the same time, the reader will learn a lot about the Norwegian culture and society.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 30/08/2010. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever.


Robin Pascoe - Raising Global Nomads. Parenting Abroad in an on-Demand World - Expatriate Press - (2006)

Some authors are coming into your life and will never go. Robin Pascoe is part of them with her book « Raising Global Nomads. Parenting Abroad in an on-Demand World ».

In the tradition of Dave Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken, Robin Pascoe examines all the issues about family expatriation in a global and ever changing world. She studies in a systematic way the steps that expatriated families encounter, i.e. the announcement of the departure to an unknown country, the settling, the search of the school, the health abroad, the repatriation to the (unknown) home country, etc...

But Robin Pascoe’s book is much more than a simple guide for expatriate families and their children. On the basis of her own experience (she is the spouse of a Canadian diplomat and lived in several countries in Asia) and numerous testimonials scattered with humor and perceptiveness all around her book, the author gives smart and practical advice in order to be better prepared to the challenge of parenting abroad and in a context of recurring expatriation.

The positive aspect of this book is also the contributions of two expat experts. Lois J. Bushong deals with the too often taboo topic of expatriate families’ mental health (depression, drug, alcohol, divorce, etc...). Barbara F. Shaetti writes about TCK’s identity development. She gives solutions to parents in order to tackle this step with serenity.

« Raising Global Nomads » is then a comprehensive, useful, lively and exiting book. A must read without moderation!

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 29/07/2010. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever.


David C. Pollock, Ruth E. Van Reken - Third Culture Kids. The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds - Nicholas Brealey Publishing - (2009)

I was advised to read this book. I took my time before buying it. But once I started it, I couldn’t help stopping to read it. I hold the book only with one hand. The second one was too busy either to underline the essentials passages or to catch a tissue box. Because reading the Pollock and Van Reken’s book is like holding a mirror: the authors tell you about your own family history, past and present and even future. The numerous testimonials and anecdotes from TCK strengthen this feeling of empathy.

After having defined the notion of Third Culture Kid, the authors examine the characteristics of the TCK experience and its consequences on the child, teen and adult development. This part of the book addresses to the TCKs themselves. While reading those pages, they will better understand their dilemmas, their questionings, and their internal conflicts. Then the book deals with advice to benefit the TCK experience. The TCKs, their parents, the adult TCKs and their enlarged family and friendly networks will find lots of advice and solutions to better understand themselves or to help those who are their beloved.

This book will be then extremely helpful for TCKs, their parents, the professionals in the expat field but also companies or organizations that send their employees and their families abroad.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 14/06/2010. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever.


Gaëlle Goutain and Adelaïde Russel - L’enfant expatrié. Accompagner son enfant à travers les changements liés à l’expatriation - L’Harmattan (2009)

« L’enfant expatrié » (The expat child) is a wonderful guide about the life and the psychology of child living in expatriation. According to me, this book is a must-read not only for parents planning to expatriate themselves with their children but also for all the professionals in the expat field (coaches in expatriation, HRM of French-speaking companies, and Foreign affairs).

In a little bit more than 200 pages, the authors answer to all the questions parents ask themselves before a departure abroad. When shall we announce him/her our decision to leave? How to prepare him/her to this new departure? How to help him/her to adapt himself/herself? Each step of the expatriation process (preparations – arrivals – stay – return to the home country) is analyzed according to the age of the child (young children, pre-teenagers, teenagers). In other words, this book is a bible for future expat families and even those who are more used to the everyday life abroad. They will find lots of practical advice and testimonials in which they will probably find themselves.

Published in 2009, this book fills up a gap in the French literature about expatriation. Obviously, the English literature has already dealt with this topic through books such as Third Culture Kids by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken or Raising Global Nomads by Robin Pascoe.

This book, that is very easy to read, brings a new perspective to the subject and targets the French-speaking expatriate community all around the world.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 24/05/2010. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever.


Julia Child with Alex Prud’homme - My life in France - Anchor Books, 2007.

If you are American or if you live in the US, you know Julia Child. If not, you have certainly discovered her by watching the movie « Julie & Julia » by director Nora Ephron.

Julia Child introduced thousand of American people to the French cuisine thanks to her book Mastering The Art of French Cooking published in 1961. She became a star with her TV show The French Chef broadcasted on the American public TV from 1963.

In My Life In France, she recounts her life as well as her love for France and the French cooking. We discover a passionate, determined, and working woman. We learn she lived in Sri Lanka, France, Norway, Germany and the United-States. She was what we call today an accompanying spouse. When living in France for the first time after the second World War, she asked herself the unavoidable question : « And now, what am I going to do ? »

Julia is a role model for all the expat women because she knew how to transform her passion for French cooking into a career as a chef and a writer. For this, she is a pioneer. Her determination and her courage can help each of us to put our personal situation into perspective. Going to live abroad at her time was a true adventure. Internet did not exist !

My life in France is an astounding life lesson. It is also a source of motivation for all expat women : when you believe in your project, everything is doable and conceivable !

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 22/04/2010. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever


Aniket et Akash Shah - Club Expat. A Teenager’s Guide to Moving Overseas - Dogear Publishing, 2005.

This book was written by two brothers, Aniket and Akash Shah. American citizens with Indian roots, they lived in different US cities before moving to Europe and Asia with their parents when they were teenagers.

Based upon their own experience and those of others young expatriates, they analyse the different steps of an expatriation from the point of you of teenagers. Nothing is left apart : the announcement and the various reactions within a same family, the relocation itself, the discovery of a new culture and a new education system. At each step, the authors give useful tips to teen readers to better manage the situation. The readers will appreciate the practical aspects of the book. For instance, which objects to keep with you during the months of transition when you are not at home anymore and not really settle into the new one, how to manage the unavoidable culture shock but also the reverse one as a young adult.

Even though this book target mainly young american expats, it is much more than a practical guide for them. It portrays rather well what third culture teenagers experience and feel. This book can not only help them in their daily life, especially during a first stay abroad, but also make them think about their own identity as a young expatriate. A work that will be necessary anyway at a time or another.

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 23/03/2010. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever.


Brigid KEENAN - Diplomatic Baggage. The adventures of a Trailing Spouse - Editions Payot, 2008.

Brigid Keenan is a British journalist, married to a diplomat from the European Commission. In this book full of humor and anecdotes, she recounts her life as an accompanying spouse since the seventies until the early 2000s.

It is then more than thirty years of life abroad that she explains by recollecting good an bad memories, moments of happiness, satisfaction but also of doubts. Every long distance expat spouses will recognize themselves in this testimonial because the author takes an inventory of the expat partner’s problematic: what about my professional career? How to raise serenely children and then teenagers in such a context? How to help aging and sick parents when you live extremely far away from them? How to manage cultural differences on a daily basis? Because even if the expat life is rewarding, it is much more complicated than if you have stayed in your home country.

Diplomatic Baggage is a book to put in the hands of those who have been an accompanying spouse for a long time around the world. But keep in mind while reading it that is the expreience of only one person. A stay abroad can be lived very differently by two people.

A successful expatriation as a accompanying spouse lies in the fact of becoming the main actor or actress of it and to make forget the others that you are the « spouse of ». In other words, make vanish the word « accompanying ». Mission accomplished for Brigid!

Véronique Martin-Place. Published on 17/02/2010. Copyright © 2010 Writer Forever.