I love getting reviews of my book and this one is a stunner! Thank you so much to Emily at BasedTraveler for this amazing write-up. It makes it all worth while to get reviews like this! Don’t forget if you haven’t bought the book – for yourself or for someone you know who might be about to enter the world of expats – it’s available from
all good bookstores Amazon, starting at the wonderful price of just £2.99/$3.99.
Not since Harry Potter have I shut a just-finished book and been inclined to pick it right back up at page 1. Maybe it’s because The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide (2015) by Clara Wiggins is also written by a witty British lady, but that’s exactly what I’m tempted to do after finishing its final section, the “Acknowledgments.” In the Acknowledgments Clara thanks her husband, employed with the UK Civil Service, “for having a job which allowed me to be able to write this instead of doing proper work.” That statement is the only thing I dislike about Clara’s book, because she’s done a huge service to the expat community.
Through an incredibly well-planned 288 pages, 20 chapters, Introduction and Appendix, Clara walks not only trailing spouses but also single, young, nearly jobless expats (like myself) through the preparations, realities, and opportunities of international living. Yes, Clara targets outright a very specific group of people: Straight women “trailing” their husbands (“partners”) on global postings. Yet she also devotes one chapter totally on male trailing spouses and same-sex partners. It’s true that a single traveler won’t find much information on dating, for instance, and the book nearly completely ignores budgeting (I think this is because most people who expatriate for a job are provided assistance). But the book is such an intriguing read without these details that by its end even the single expat is informed enough to find the information they’re lacking—or simply feel more confident about not knowing!
The Expat Partner’s Survival Guide is a powerfully loving resource for expatriates. Not only does Clara detail her own story and that of her mother, but she also weaves the stories of other expatriates into nearly every page of her piece. Although she cites some of her contributors at the end I cannot image how many more she must have interviewed, how many blogs she read, how many conversations she sat in on to include the quality quotes highlighting every one of the lessons she provides. The stories of other expats are so rich, so poignant, and often so funny that Clara’s book reads like your favorite Aunt’s list of summer camp advice. There’s no denying that it’s insanely useful for anyone hoping to move abroad, most especially if they are families, but it’s also easy to digest. Clara leaves no rock unturned: From preparations to pool parties, schools to shells, fido to friends, she attends holistically to the unique challenges that face expat-partners.
When today I was on the brink of tears in a series of expat-only challenges (bikes, banks, botched meetings…), I giggled instead when I remembered Clara’s use of the term “expatitis.” I remembered reading, “There will be ups and downs, but, as long as you are prepared for what lies ahead, you should be ready to meet every challenge thrown at you.” Even, as she acknowledges in one chapter, “If It All Goes Wrong” and you are forced to return home. I spent the entire book wishing I could call other expat partners I knew to tell them what Clara said. And because of her advice I have also re-prioritized my schedule to allow more time for saying “yes” to socializing and integrating with my local expat community.
As the author of my own expat-focused book, I feel completely refreshed by Clara’s non-competitive, honest endeavor to help any expat find the support they need. In a world full of travel bloggers competing for claims to “the best” advice, Clara’s careful, caring, and learned observation provides the most helpful big-picture guide of them all.
Clara offers two options (Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and Smashwords) for purchasing her extremely affordable e-book on her website: https://expatpartnersurvival.com/buy-the-book/
You can also find her on twitter, @strandedatsea, and Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/expatpartnersurvival