I love what I think of as "random memoirs," meaning memoirs written by not-famous people who can make an interesting story out of their lives. Sometimes these people tell interesting stories because very interesting things happened to them. In the case of "expat" memoirs, a subgenre of the random memoir, it is because they moved to someplace interesting to most readers because we like the idea of living there too, or at least visiting. But always these books are good (when they are good) because the memoirists makes the ordinary details of their life interesting -- the day to day conflicts, universal lessons, and humorous observations.
Knowing what I like in a memoir, I was more than happy to grab review copies of Kristin Louise Duncombe's two memoirs about life as "trailing" spouse of a Médecins Sans Frontières doctor.
In the first, Trailing, Kristin follows her new husband from New Orleans, where they met, to Africa and eventually Paris, not without conflict, trauma, heartache, and personal growth. In the second, Five Flights Up, Kristin and her family move from Paris to Lyon, which involves as much upheaval because her children are older and her professional life established in Paris.
I have the feeling I am going to race through these. They make excellent additions to my French Connections list.
FROM THE PUBLISHER'S DESCRIPTION
Kristin’s first book, Trailing: A Memoir, chronicles her experience becoming a “trailing spouse” and following her Médecins Sans Frontières husband to the frontlines of disaster and disease in East Africa. Critics say that “Few books offer so revealing a glimpse into the life of an American wife in Africa, where staying alive mentally and intellectually can be just as important as physical survival,” and that “Trailing speaks not just of adapting to alternative cultures, but about the responsibility we need to take for our own lives, even if the parameters are set by other people. A perfect novel for expats, or for any woman who is seeking a sense of purpose.”
Five Flights Up chronicles the adventures of Kristin Louise Duncombe, a Paris-based American psychotherapist whose unique specialty is helping “trailing wives” maintain their independence while following their careerist husbands around the globe.
Kristin, a former trailing wife herself, now has a successful career, loving family, and has just published her first book about being a “trailing” spouse. When she suddenly faces being uprooted again – this time from Paris to Lyon – to once more follow her Argentinean doctor husband, she finds she has to redefine everything she thought she knew about transition and trailing.
What books came into your house recently?
Join other book lovers on Mailbox Monday to share the books that came into your house lately. Visit the Mailbox Monday website to find links to all the participants' posts. You can also find the hosts' favorites at posts titled Books that Caught Our Eye.
Serena of Savvy Verse & Wit, Martha of Reviews by Martha's Bookshelf, and Emma of Words and Peace graciously host Mailbox Monday.