I really enjoyed this book about three women who are living in the same expat community in Hong Kong. It is both contemporary and old fashioned at the same time, pointing out how choices and opportunities are narrowed when you live outside of your home country away from your regular friends and family. I love books that alternate pov and intersect in places, and this book does that really well. Margaret, a housewife and mother, is completely heartbreaking with her attempt to recover after a tragedy. Mercy, the person who made Margaret a victim, is a sympathetic mess, a young and single woman trying to find her way after college, who is near impossible to vilify. Hilary is a wealthy housewife struggling with infertility and a crumbling marriage. The three women, their friends and families, weave in an out of each other’s lives throughout the book.
The Expatriates is really a book about women. The men in this book are barely fleshed out, yet still present in the stories. The intersection of the women’s stories and the communities around them, create a suspenseful and interesting picture. I found myself relating to all three of these women, though they were very different, and not always in positive ways. Some of it was difficult to get through for me, but overall I really enjoyed the book.
Like any book set in any location that isn’t the city where I currently live, I immediately start wanting to visit. This is an instant reaction for me, no matter where. Oh, Les Miserables is a sad story about unspeakable loss? Sure, but France. The Namesake? That reminds me I need some Indian food. I really am the worst. So now I’m dying to go to Hong Kong, and Thailand, and even Korea, even though I have never thought that one day of my life before picking up this book. So that says something – either it says the location was richly depicted, or it says that I have ADD. Either way, noodles.
Grade – B+