Here’s a name you’ll here more of: Chris Pavone. Enabled by ‘in town’ visits from the London Book Fair, US author Pavone was indeed in town last night for the launch of his debut novel, The Expats, at Goldsboro Books. Published in the UK by Faber & Faber, the novel is available now. Those desperately seeking out strong female protagonists take note: The Expats in this novel are Kate and her husband Dexter, along with their two young sons. But Kate is no ordinary expat.
Have you heard of the model that is Johari’s Window? It categories relationships according to what is known. Let’s just say that the boxes for hidden/façade and blind spot are quite well magnified in the marriage of Kate and Dexter; neither does it end there. And it starts within the daily minutiae of domesticity when Dexter suddenly, and uncharacteristically, makes a proposal for career changes for both of them:
… Katherine froze mid-mince, at the twist in the road of this plan that she’d anticipated ten minutes ago, as soon as he’d uttered the question “What would you think of moving to Luxembourg?” The twist that meant she’d have to quit her job, permanently. In that first flash of recognition, deep relief washed over her, the relief of an unexpected solution to an intractable problem. She would have to quit. It was not her decision; she had no choice.
She had never admitted to her husband—had barely admitted to herself—that she wanted to quit. And now she would never have to admit it …
And then, the proposal takes flight:
… Strewn around her eight ugly person-sized suitcases were four carry-on bags and a purse and two computer bags and two little-child knapsacks, and, on low-lying outcroppings, jackets and teddy bears and a ziplock filled with granola bars and fruit, both fresh and dried, plus brown M&Ms; all the more popular colors had been eaten before Nova Scotia.
This was her, clutching her family’s blue passports, distinct from the Germans’ burgundy, standing out not just because of the vinyl colors, but also because locals don’t sit around on piles of hideous luggage, clutching passports.
This was her, not understanding what anyone was saying, the language incomprehensible. After a seven-hour flight that allowed two hours of sleep, baggy-eyed and spent and hungry and nauseated and excited and fearful.
This was her: an immigrant, immigrating …
Those unknowns are not just in the marriage but lies within lives. Think Brangelina’s Mr and Mrs Jones with a decent IQ and less reliance on action sequences to maintain the suspense and thrill.