"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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
While we can't say for sure that Janice Y. K. Lee penned her sophomore novel specifically to keep us pinned to our couch for an entire weekend, we have our suspicions. The Expatriates is a richly detailed, intensely human, and delightfully tabloid-ready portrait of the intimate lives of three very different American women transplanted to today's Hong Kong. Lee's interwoven storylines are thrilling; they left us musing about family, fate, and what it really means to be "home."
After her successful debut novel, The Piano Teacher, Lee returns with a captivating book about three American women living in an expatriate community in Hong Kong. She explores their experiences with love, loss, and uncertainty about the future and the unexpected ways their lives intersect. Mercy, a recent Columbia graduate who relocated from New York to Hong Kong in search of new opportunities, struggles to move forward after her involvement in a disturbing incident. Margaret, who used to have a life that other people envied, with a happy marriage and three children, finds herself searching for a new identity after her family is shaken by a loss. And Hilary, a wealthy housewife wishing for a child and toying with the idea of adoption, feels stalled by indecision and a troubled marriage. Their international community, described vividly in this atmospheric narrative, is insular. That these women occupy different spaces in this world of privilege does not prevent them from altering one another's lives. Lee's women are complex and often flawed, which makes the stories of their strength all the more compelling in this tale of family, motherhood, and attempts at moving on.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Moving and beautiful.
Couldn’t put this beautiful book down. Incredible.
A loving and caring story about Mothers, children and forgiving. She has written a beautiful saga of women's life's intertwining. I of course understand how she ended this story, but I was sad nonetheless that it did.
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.