Book Review: The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee

The ExpatriatesThe Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Publisher  Viking
Summary:  Mercy, a young Korean American and recent Columbia graduate, is adrift, undone by a terrible incident in her recent past. Hilary, a wealthy housewife, is haunted by her struggle to have a child, something she believes could save her foundering marriage. Meanwhile, Margaret, once a happily married mother of three, questions her maternal identity in the wake of a shattering loss. As each woman struggles with her own demons, their lives collide in ways that have irreversible consequences for them all.

I quite enjoyed this look at three expatriate American women in Hong Kong. Margaret, a trailing wife (so called because she's trailed behind Clarke, her husband who is working there) with their three children. Hilary, an independently wealthy trailing wife of David, a corporate attorney. Mercy is the third woman, a single twenty-something Columbia grad who has been aimless and continues to be hapless on the periphery of this group. Their lives were intertwined well and while I often was frustrated with them, I still found them all interesting to read about. I won't give spoilers here because they're worth reading but I do have to say that one character's lack of an actual name did niggle at me and threw me out of the story each time I came across it. There was never any explanation given for this circumstance so I didn't know if the character really had that as a name as no one else did or if the author had done it for a specific reason or if there was some sort of cultural hint I was missing that the reference was done as a nod too.

It was a lot more sad than I'd expected and I have to say that I wholly disagree with a blurb I'd read that mentioned it was funny. The epilogue was totally saccharine but but I really didn't need that for a satisfying end, in fact, it diminished the story a bit for me. Sometimes you need just to skip epilogues. I definitely recommend reading this one.

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