The Expatriates

  • by Janice Y. K. Lee
  • Narrated by Ann Marie Lee
  • 13 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

From the author of the New York Times best seller The Piano Teacher, a beautiful, transporting novel about motherhood, marriage, and friendship.
Janice Y. K. Lee's blockbuster hit 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.


What the Critics Say

"Devastating and heartwarming, and exquisite in every way, this is a book you'll fall deeply in love with and never want to put down." (Kevin Kwan)
"We found ourselves racing through this exotic, sexy, heartbreaking book.... We couldn't wait to find out what happens to each of the women." (Glamour )
"Ann Marie Lee's singsong intonation expresses the feminine spirit at the heart of Janice Y.K. Lee's long awaited new novel.... Author and narrator blend perfectly to convey a powerful journey of love, loss, and growth." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

You can be a jerk in a foreign country too

This is a book for women; 99% of men will not enjoy it.

If you are expecting a book about love, relationships, forgiveness, and redemption, then you will love this book. If you are looking for something about ex-pats and their lives and struggles with foreign cultures, this is not that book.

Having lived as an ex-pat for 14 years, both single and with my husband and adopted local kids, I expected to connect with this story, especially since I had lived in Taiwan and visited Hong Kong many times so I know the land, the people and the culture.

This book is much less about being ex-patriates than it is about social groups and gaps; dealing with infertility, tragedy, betrayal, and infidelity; being the victim or the cause of suffering. It is about mothers, motherhood, and women, solidarity among women.

It is written beautifully, and develops gradually into a whole. There is no reason for it to be set in Hong Kong, but then no reason not to either.

Three women, each struggling with her own burdens, then suffers another deeper blow. This is about how they handle this, how they view others and then themselves, grow stronger to cope with their lives, then learn about patience, forgiveness, acceptance, and redemption. Along the way, they learn about mothers and what "woman" means.

Incidental to the women's stories, are the three men and the ways in which they deal with the same events the women are dealing with. One of the men is a stand-up, supportive guy who actually hangs in there and helps. The other two go off on their own pity-parties and, by the end of the story, haven't learned to be men. There is still hope for them, but that would be later.

The story loses a star for me because of the disconnect with the title. The ex-pats didn't have to deal with anything they wouldn't have confronted back home. The Hong Kong-ness didn't matter to the story; they could or would have been the same jerks there as here. What I wanted more of was how being in a foreign country makes you feel as if your actions are invisible to the world and don't matter because no one back home sees you. I wanted more than the little bit there was of how the ex-pats interact with the locals. There were a couple, all negative, but this book wasn't really about that. This was just a regular-coming-of-age story even though the women were beyond teenage.

There are quite a few tidbits of wisdom here like, "you have let happiness happen." These and all the redemptive events happen quite late in the story, so it is a bit hard to slog along to get there. But it really is a beautiful story, with many points to ponder.

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- Trudy Owens


An engrossing portrait of women living abroad, without being a novel about living abroad-- the story could take place anywhere in the Western world.

It's about: Three women and how their lives intersect, and secrets, and all that stuff. Well done.
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- jennifer

Book Details

  • Release Date: 01-12-2016
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio