Parsley & Coriander is a new novel by Antonella Moretti. It was originally published in Italian and has just been released in English.
The story gives us a peek into the lives of a group Italian women living in China over the course of a year.
Luisella left a good job in Italy to follow her husband to Asia. She has a 12 year old daughter in the International school who now speaks perfect English. As the story begins, Luisella has been living in China for several years. She has re-invented herself and is now a blogger and writer. She is in the process of publishing her first book. She enjoys her life in China and is the go-to person for the group. In a way she is a mother figure. She takes the time to help those in need and tries to engage the ones that are lost.
Astrid is a newcomer with two small children. Her husband arrived six months earlier and she found it difficult to take care of the children on her own. She was happy to be reunited with her husband but very anxious about her new environment. Luckily she makes friends and has a very supportive husband. Her best friend turns out to be a Malaysian woman and at the end they venture out into the countryside to see another side of China.
Emma, on the other hand, arrives hoping to save her marriage. Big mistake. It only goes from bad to worse, but her outcome is the most surprising of all, even to her.
Other women are weaved into the story. Some need to resolve medical issues, others have trouble with their children, some don’t adjust at all and return home, and some are highly successful. One young woman is there to study Chinese language and culture and wants to immerse herself completely. They make fun of her and say it isn’t possible. She proves them wrong.
We see an ugly side of expat life when we meet the unhappy women who hate everything about their host country and are very cliquish. But mostly they support each other and grow and learn from their experience.
The author, through Luisella’s character, emphasizes the opportunity they all have to experience and learn about a new culture. The children attend the International School and speak fluent English as well as have friends from all over the world. She also recognizes that her child is constantly saying good bye to people and adjusting so there is a down side but overall the outcome is a positive one.
This is a good glimpse into the trials and tribulations of a trailing spouse. Anybody living in China or moving to China would benefit from reading this book.
You can read Antonella’s blog at Parsley and Coriander.