I know it sounds like a lurid television drama (back in the early ‘80s, Caged Women — as Prisoner: Cell Block H was called in Canada — was my guilty pleasure) but this is the title of a useful little book based on the eponymous advice column on ExpatWomen.com. Authored by ExpatWomen.com co-founder Andrea Martins and Victoria Hepworth, the book is subtitled 50 Answers to Your Real-Life Questions about Living Abroad, and it more than delivers on its promise.
Andrea very kindly included a pre-release copy in the registration kit of every attendee at the recent FIGT conference. I’ve been taking it on a leisurely test-drive, dipping into it every couple of days to check out whatever catches my eye. With sections on Settling In, Career and Money, Raising Children, Relationships, Mixed Emotions, and Repatriation, it lends itself to that kind of episodic reading. The user-friendly layout means it’s easy to find practical advice on whatever topic interests you, without necessarily having to read it cover to cover in a single sitting.
But what great stuff there is sandwiched between those covers! Starting with the foreword by expat expert Robin Pascoe (who admits, “I am still surprised at the number of women who are afraid to appear anything less than perfectly well adjusted”) and ending with the excellent list of resources, this is a must-have reference book for any woman contemplating moving overseas, or experiencing problems once she’s arrived.
The tone is non-judgmental. The language is accessible. The authors have succeeded brilliantly in creating a nurturing environment that makes the reader feel as though she’s having a chat over coffee with a good friend. You get the feeling that here, there really is no such thing as a dumb question.
What I admire about this book is its straightforward, no-nonsense approach. If you’re looking for something that sugar-coats the expatriate experience, this might not be the book for you. If, however, you’re looking for a book that’s honest about the fact that sometimes bad stuff happens — and provides sensible suggestions for dealing with it — you’re in luck.
Expat Women: Confessions isn’t afraid to touch on such hot potato topics as teen suicide, domestic violence, and infidelity, and the authors frankly warn the reader that “not every day will be a good day.” But each nugget of advice is lovingly wrapped in enough empathy and encouragement to make anything seem possible.
The book is available as of today. You can download a free sample and learn more about it at www.expatwomen.com.