Expat Life: Slice by Slice

March saw Apple Gidley in Washington DC, in her capacity as Board Director of Families in Global Transition, who held their annual conference in the US capital. It was also the month her much anticipated book Expat Life: Slice by Slice was published.

The daughter of seasoned expats, she has spent her life transitioning between cultures, marrying a global spouse, following his career around the world and raising two global nomads in the process. Read her professional resume and it’s both inspiring and intimidating.

Over the next few weeks, when many of the FIGT delegates might be forgiven for taking a few days to kick back and unwind, Apple will be returning to Houston, the place she now calls home, to promote and focus on her book.

By anyone’s reckoning she is an authority on expat life, with her first posting to Nigeria at a month old, followed by twenty-five more through twelve countries, over the past 50 years. You’d think the challenges and upheavals she experienced would leave her exhausted and drained, ready to grab a G&T and put her feet up under a palm tree on a sun drenched terrace, somewhere in the mythical world of expatland.

Not this lady.

Throughout her travels Apple has taken her position as an expat in a foreign country seriously. She was a third culture kid before anyone knew they existed, instilled with cultural awareness by parents who took their roles and responsibilities seriously too.

Apple describes her childhood as growing up, “in the cooling embers of colonialism.” She describes the people who looked after her family, and helped raise her, with appreciation, acknowledging how privileged her life was compared to theirs. Mixed with this she had an innate awareness she had no right to interfere or change the way these people lived to make them fit her cultural expectations.

Marriage and children saw her expat life continue with the joys, challenges and sadness it inevitably brings. She rose to those challenges in the only way she knew how, head on with courage and optimism. She’s definitely ‘old school’.

These days, with the immediacy of global communication, the world of the modern expat has changed beyond recognition. What hasn’t changed are the human issues of loss of identity for the ‘trailing’ spouse, staying connected with family and friends, global parenting, caring for elderly parents, dealing with death, retirement and the biggest of them all, Where is home?

 Apple’s book is a wonderful blend of sage advice gleaned through years of experience, mixed with wonderfully descriptive stories from all periods of her life. From memories of the heat of exotic (and not so exotic) locations in Asia, Australia, Europe, America and Africa, creating her own identity along the way, this book is a wonderful resource. What Apple felt and experienced as an expat teen helped guide her as she raised her own. Watching her own parents adjust to living in settled retirement after a lifetime of travel, gave her insights as to how she would deal with the same situation.

This is not an ABC survival guide for expats, it’s a well-thought out, well written, thought-provoking book on what it means to be an expat. It’s written with wit, humour, insight and deep pathos. There are a couple of times you will reach for the kleenex.

Most of all it’s a wonderful source of inspiration and encouragement for first time expats and a reassurance for those more seasoned travellers amongst us. You will survive, obstacles will be overcome and new challenges are on every horizon.

It’s a wonderful life.

Expat Life: Slice by Slice, Apple Gidley

Price £11.99/€12.99/$15.99

Summertime Publishing

ISBN 978-1-904881-71-1 (print);

ISBN 978-1-904881-72-8 (kindle)

314 pp, paperback


About wordgeyser

Our anglo/american family used to live in four countries (USA, Canada, UK and the Netherlands) on two continents, separated by distance, time zones, circumstance and cultures. It has been a scary, enriching, challenging place to be. The only things guaranteed to get us through were a sense of humour and the amazing people met along the way. . . This year everything changed with a move for us from the Netherlands, – and a move along with us for our son and his wife from the UK – to Houston, Texas, the same city as our daughter. With our youngest in Vancouver, Canada, we are now all living on the same continent. How this happened, and more importantly why, will be the subject of this ongoing blog...
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2 Responses to Expat Life: Slice by Slice

  1. Looking forward to reading this book, especially since it’s published by Jo Parfitt’s Summertime Publishing and I hear had the editorial services of an expert/expat 😉

  2. Jo @ SummertimePublishing says:

    Thanks, Jane

    I am delighted to report that I am just home after spending a week with Apple in Washington DC at the Families in Global Transition conference and after much arm-bending (not) she has agreed to have a book launch in The Hague in June (probably Thur 21st)! The event will be in association with the Expatriate Archive Centre, so we are very excited.

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