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Diplomatic Baggage: The Adventures of a Trailing Spouse Paperback – 30 Jan 2006
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Brigid writes like a dream ... fabulous (Joanna Lumley)
Brigid Keenan vividly evokes both the oddities and loneliness, even today, of being the "other half" of a diplomat. Immediate and intimate, poignant and very funny; it is as if she is talking to the reader. Her eagle-eyed observation of human behaviour and far flung experiences made me laugh out loud. (Josceline Dimbleby)
A wonderful picaresque take on the travails of expat life, and an absolutely delicious read ... There are not many books that have actually made me cry from laughing, but this is one of them (Katie Hickman, Sunday Times)
Life is what you make of it -- you can't just sit there and let it happen to you -- you've got to grab opportunities with both hands, or you risk boredom at least, depression and deathbed regrets at worst. Women have not been raised to understand the importance of this. Brigid Keenan rams the message home with hilarity. This is an important book, written by a very funny writer. (Shirley Conran)
I found myself laughing out loud three or four times a page. Quite unlike anything else I have read: sad, touching, honest and observant. (William Dalrymple)
Bridget Jones' mother meets Katie Hickman's Daughters of Britannia ... I've a hunch this is going to do very well. (Bookseller)
The verve, the fun and the disasters of a life spent trekking round the world is vividly conveyed. (Publishing News)
Thirty years of far-flung postings later, she has acquired enough farcical experiences to make this memoir irresistible. (Mail on Sunday)
She is consistently herself, an observant journalist with a beady eye for local eccentricities ... Life with Brigid Keenan could never be boring. (Country Life)
The story sparkles, flies, delights. You love Keenan, the weepy, flighty, funny bit of diplomatic baggage but a part of your heart goes out to AW, her partner, who puts up and shuts up. But what makes this book special is how with a light touch Keenan exposes the dark corners, the frustrations, the dilemmas of those who go forth to represent their country. The grand houses and lifestyles hide so much, silence so many. But not Bridget Keenan. (Yasmin Alibhai-Brown)
Bridget Jones's mother meets Katie Hickman's Daughters of Britannia in a hilarious memoir of home-making and family adventures in the world's furthest outpostsSee all Product description
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No, hilarious this was not.
With great insight, Brigid Keenan carefully, honestly, humorously and in a hilariously self-deprecating manner answers these questions, as she has spent the last three decades of her life wandering around the world as an ex-pat housewife.
What is interesting about Keenan’s experience as an ex-pat housewife (and that of anyone who has lived as gypsies in a bubble, as it were, for an extended amount of time outside of their home country) is that what may seem important to someone like Keenan may seem trivial to others, especially those who have careers to maintain. A good example of this was illustrated when Keenan returned to England from Almaaty and told her journalist friend that she had just lost her car keys and it was a nightmare, whereby her journalist friend replied, “I nearly lost my life, as there was an assassination attempt on Hamid Karzai and I was standing next to him while in Afghanistan.”
In short, Diplomatic Baggage is engrossing, funny, insightful and, most of all, honest, in its telling of what it really is like to be a trailing spouse.
I was not disappointed.
The countries visited are among some that I am unlikely to have the chance to ever visit, insights and flavours of places delight, amuse and in some cases produce tears of rage and frustration.
Coupled with the cornucopia of strange lands is the ongoing relationships within the family, this, holds a thread to all of us who are parents and the ways of our maturing (or not!) children. From bouquets at childbirth to hard to read letters received from the childrens schools.
As a bonus for me, I read this while visiting Gambia, where some of the action takes place.
The life of a "following on" diplomats wife can't be expected to be all sweetness and light, this book confirms that, and yet, making the best of the situation - often with hilarious consequences, is something we could all learn from.
If you love travel, far away places, tales of daring-do, laughter and tears, then this a book for you.
Can't wait to read 'Packing Up'