The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee: Review

The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee

The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee

The Expatriates tells the tale of three women, connected by the expatriate scene in modern-day Hong Kong.

Margaret invites Mercy along on the family vacation to help care for her three children. Margaret might have been used to the opulence of her life in Hong Kong, having servants to make her everyday life easier, but Mercy isn’t accustomed to being ‘the help.’

Mercy’s educated and intelligent but lost enough in her everyday life to say yes to the offer. But when Margaret leaves the children alone with Mercy for just a moment, she returns to find one of her children missing. She screams his name into the surrounding streets but her son is nowhere to be seen.

As Hilary and her husband struggle to conceive, she feels him drifting away from her. Even as they consider adopting; even when she invites one of the children to have piano lessons in her home, they continue to drift apart. One night he simply doesn’t come home and she’s left in a beautiful house with a part-time child she’s unsure if she can adopt.

Margaret, Mercy and Hilary are all changed by the wealth of Hong Kong but while Hilary and Margaret find themselves immersed in luxury, Mercy looks in from the outside, unsure how these women’s lives became so simple when hers has been plagued by bad luck from the very beginning.

Lee’s three women are smart, strong, complex, yet flawed and unique in a way that makes them a joy to read. From Margaret’s life, torn between her family and where she lost her son, to Mercy’s analytical thought processes and shame, these women are simply hypnotic.

What is beautifully unusual about the finale of this novel is the sense of family. Each of the women has their own reasons as to why they could easily dissociate from one another but instead of the hatred and anger that could have filled these pages, something beautiful emerges.

Ultimately a tale of love, forgiveness and motherhood The Expatriates is a stunning novel that gives the reader a glimpse into a privileged world where materialism and fake smiles rule but true human connections can still be found beneath the surface. It’s a spellbinding book that really immerses you in a fascinating world, I adored it.

Buy The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee

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