There is an eerily devastating quality to this novel that will compel you through even while a part of you will wish to push away. The writing is exquisite as is the story-telling. This is an author clearly at the top of her game.
Three American women have relocated to Hong Kong. Mercy, a recent college grad has no job and no partner. Hilary, a wealthy housewife is bored and unhappy because she is not able to conceive. She thinks her ho-hum marriage can be saved with the birth of a child. Meanwhile, I have to say that her husband is a jerk! Margaret is supposed to be the happy one with three kids and a good marriage. But she is about to experience a devastating loss.
I have often wondered what it would be like to resettle in a foreign county; not knowing the language, not having any friends, etc. I did actually live in Toronto for three years many years ago when my children were little. But the language was English and we had family nearby.
Each of the three women in the story is dealing with an issue that is causing major disruption. Lee manages to show the emotions of each woman so that the reader begins to feel sympathy in the light of all the complexities they are dealing with. I always say that many, many women are living lives of quiet desperation. That certainly pertains here.
The three women’s lives slowly become entangled and the bar goes up yet one more notch. Traveling between exotic locales and South Korea, Lee certainly knows how to make you feel as if you are right there on the page with her. You’ll leave this book knowing oh-so-much more about Hong Kong than you did before picking it up.
Janice K. Lee was born and raised in Hong Kong. Of Korean decent, she moved to the U.S. when she was fifteen and graduated from Harvard College with a degree in English and American literature and Language. A former editor at Elle, she moved to Hong Kong in 2005 with her husband, where they lived with their four children until recently moving back to New York City.
THE EXPATRIATES by Janice Y. Lee is now available in a trade paperback form. Penguin Books is the publisher. And I have them to thank for my beautiful paperback.