This book is a work of fiction. My experience living in Bangkok was very different, and much happier, than Crystal’s. And, thankfully, my husband is nothing like Brian. But it was easy for me to imagine how Crystal’s experience could have happened.
I was not happy about leaving my job in Washington, DC when we moved to Thailand. I had just co-authored a policy book about how some oil companies were hiding their profits to avoid U.S. taxes, and I would not be around to promote it. But the Thailand office was an important move for my husband’s career, so I agreed.
We had many international friends in Washington, including some Thais who worked with my husband. As it happened, some of them moved back to Thailand to participate in the newly elected democratic government around the same time we arrived. That meant we didn’t live completely within the expat community, and felt much more comfortable in the country than we otherwise would.
In addition, we are Jewish. While Crystal couldn’t find any friendship group to which she could belong, the Jewish community of about 100 families welcomed us enthusiastically. Just a couple weeks after we arrived, I was recruited to teach in the religious school. Crystal’s experiences when she finally joined a church are in part transposed from my own. The first time I attended a synagogue sisterhood meeting, I was given the job of visiting sick or hospitalized members.
Finally, my husband worked for an international organization with Americans, Europeans, and other Asians – quite different than Brian’s office. We had plenty of people with whom to socialize.