Apple Gidley has written a book that made my jaw drop.
I thought that our move to Spain, the cultural differences we encountered, the struggles we’ve had with legal issues, the problems of living lives as part-time partners – well, I thought them momentous, and I have probably been more than a little self-congratulatory in our ability to come through it all.
Apple puts me to such shame that I might never be able to write again!
Born in 1958, the same year as myself, to an english father and an australian mother, her expat wanderings began at the tender age of one month. Pretty good, huh, for someone who couldn’t even crawl yet? (Well, I assume not, but I could be persuaded otherwise, having read of all her other amazing achievements).
Apple has gone on to move 26 times and has lived in 12 different countries (from Africa to Australasia and Melanesia, Europe to the Caribbean and America). She talks from a wealth of experience about being an expat child, an expat wife, an expat mother and now an expat grandmother.
The depth of subjects covered has left me astounded, awed, maybe jealous and certainly full of admiration. Apple speaks of the joy and heartache of loving and leaving (or losing) pets, including her pet monkey, Munnings. Of the problems faced by a nomadic child who must constantly make new friends in different places, different manners, with different religions, different languages. Of finding a constant in her boarding school but then encountering difficulties in going home to ever-changing locations for school holidays. Of living a single life, even within a partnership, and then frequently being a single mother. Of the need to maintain familial relationships, to fulfil familial obligations, deal with familial problems, over great distances. Of change, change and more change.
Apple’s book is written with deep insight and some immensely evocative descriptions, but still remains light enough to feel that it is not an instructional piece, which in reality it is, very much. My interest was retained excellently by clever movements back and forward through time as each slice of wisdom demanded, and the whole picture became filled like a colour-by-numbers scene, with all hues, painted individually, finally melding together to make one gloriously colourful masterpiece.
Apple, I salute you!