Janice Y. K. Lee
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"Raise a glass: The first great book-club novel of 2016 has arrived.” —USA Today, 4/4 stars
“A female, funny Henry James in Asia, Janice Y. K. Lee is vividly good on the subject of Americans abroad.” —The New York Times Book Review
“Sex and the City meets Lost in Translation.” —The Skimm
Janice Y. K. Lee’s New York Times bestselling debut, The Piano Teacher, was called “immensely satisfying” by People, “intensely readable” by O, The Oprah Magazine, and “a rare and exquisite story” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Now, in her long-awaited new novel, Lee explores with devastating poignancy the emotions, identities, and relationships of three very different American women living in the same small expat community in Hong Kong.
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. Atmospheric, moving, and utterly compelling, The Expatriates confirms Lee as an exceptional talent and one of our keenest observers of women’s inner lives.
From the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
© Publishers Weekly
Avid reader! Did not want this book to end.
Highbrow chick lit
Part of what might be called a genre of chick lit written by extremely high-achieving women, usually with former backgrounds in demanding corporate jobs. The writing is almost predictably good, the kind an Ivy League professor loves to grade as "A" (not A-!). But the precision of description struck me as overly conscientious. The most convincing parts was the description of high-end expat life which the author, as the wife of a senior financier, is probably better placed than anyone to discuss, and the escalation of Margaret's conflicted grief. I did wish for a bit more snark in the former, bur overall very well done. The weak points was Mercy (who comes off as a pallid knockoff of Minjin Lee's "Casey" character in Free Food for Millionaires) and Hilary, who struggles with childlessness does not really ring true. It felt as if the author was merely transcribing secondhand the experiences of someone who has had fertility issues. Above all the ending's sentimentality compromises the quality of the book - it would have been stronger without the epilogue.