When Crystal’s husband, Brian, suddenly announces that his company is sending him to manage its Bangkok office and that he expects her and their children to come along, she reluctantly acquiesces. She doesn’t want to leave the job she loves and everything familiar in their small Oklahoma town; it’s 1975, however, and Crystal, a woman with traditional values, feels she has to be a good wife and follow her husband.
Crystal finds beauty in Thailand, but also isolation and betrayal. Fighting intense loneliness and buffeted by a series frightening and shocking events, she struggles to adapt to a very different culture and battle a severe depression―and, ultimately, decide whether her broken relationship with her husband is worth saving.
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Awards and Praise for A Wife in Bangkok
A Wife in Bangkok was named an International Book Awards Finalist in the category of Multicultural Fiction.
A Wife in Bangkok was was awarded Five Stars from Readers’ Favorite.
“A thoughtful portrayal of a major depressive episode in a wife and mother leaving everything behind in the 1970s to follow her husband to a foreign country for his career, also known as ‘trailing spouse syndrome.’ Culture clash and resentment ensue, leading to her treatment in a Houston psychiatric facility, which is illustrated in a sensitive way without stigma.”
―Karen B. Rosenbaum, MD, psychiatrist and faculty at NYU and Weill Cornell Medical College
“Only someone with a deep understanding of Thailand could have written this book. The adept handling of the main character’s conflict and the redeeming nature of love are matched only by the rich descriptions of the land, the people, and the culture. Indeed, Thailand is the other main character in this fascinating novel of a US family in that ‘faraway country’ of 1975.”
―Jean P. Moore, award-winning author of Water on the Moon and Tilda’s Promise
“The novel examines in great detail what it might be like to be uprooted from one’s comforts and culture, transported halfway around the world to foreign mysteries, and plunged into the unknown, struggling to find a foothold, grasping for succor from hands who may be friendly or set on mischief. The novel is also an intricate and wholly well-informed presentation of the complexities of Thai life and culture, a well-plotted adventure of corporate intrigue, a close examination of the structure of an uncommunicative and weak marriage, and an exploration of the effects on Crystal’s psyche of obsession, self-doubt, loneliness, and situational depression. Finally, the novel suggests the possibility of healing and redemption.”
―Bruce J. Berger, author of The Flight of the Veil (Black Rose Writing October 2020) and Adjunct Professor, Department of Literature, American University
“Over the course of this novel, Lav presents an ambitious tale about overstepping cultural boundaries and losing one’s autonomy within a marriage. . . . an unusual glimpse of life in Thailand in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.”
“The growth process she [Crystal] experiences by being an American wife transplanted to the alien culture and conditions of Bangkok makes for a mesmerizing story that follows the logical progression of her evolution with an astute attention to detail and psychological development.
Iris Mitlin Lav’s story excels in its survey not only of Crystal’s emotional condition and growth, but in its portrait of the Thai people and their world. Readers absorb a depth of discussion surprising for the usual novel, which imparts much information about Thai lifestyles and culture.
Its added focus on Crystal’s evolution and the process whereby she heals, makes new decisions, and cultivates new opportunities is icing on the cake of understanding, on many different levels. While this may seem complex, the story is also involving and hard to put down.
The passionate descriptions of how Crystal and her family interact in their new world, forming revised purposes and ideals for their future, are creatively, evocatively crafted through descriptions that tug at the heart: “The Carrol family launched their kratongs to join the others. Even Brian was taken by the display and helped the children float theirs.
Crystal certainly needed the water god to float her own troubles away. She formed a prayer in her heart. Please, may I find a better way to live here. Please, may the problems between Brian and me go away.”
Readers looking for stories about female psyches, development, growth, and change will relish the inroads into independence and positive choices that are cultivated and explored in A Wife in Bangkok.
―D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
“A Wife in Bangkok by Iris Mitlin Lav was a very interesting read, and certainly well-researched as evident by the author’s own time in Thailand….. Overall, the novel itself was well-written and delivered at a steady pace that made me feel an attachment to the characters. I would definitely read another book by this author in the future.”
– Readers’ Favorite