The Book Cellar
"A smart, sparkling novel that is one part social satire, one part travelogue . . . Comical and cool.” —Oprah Daily
In Katie Crouch's thrilling novel Embassy Wife, two women abroad search for the truth about their husbands—and their country.
Meet Persephone Wilder, a displaced genius posing as the wife of an American diplomat in Namibia. Persephone takes her job as a representative of her country seriously, coming up with an intricate set of rules to survive the problems she encounters: how to dress in hundred-degree weather without showing too much skin, how not to look drunk at embassy functions, and how to eat roasted oryx with grace. She also suspects her husband is not actually the ambassador’s legal counsel but a secret agent in the CIA. The consummate embassy wife, she takes the newest trailing spouse, Amanda Evans, under her wing.
Amanda arrives in Namibia mere weeks after giving up her Silicon Valley job so her husband, Mark, can have his family close by as he works on his Fulbright project. But once they’re settled in the sub-Saharan desert, Amanda sees clearly that Mark, who lived in Namibia two decades earlier, has other reasons for returning. Back in the safety of home, the marriage had seemed solid; in the glaring heat of the Kalahari, it feels tenuous. And the situation grows even more fraught when their daughter becomes involved in an international conflict and their own government won’t stand up for her.
How far will Amanda go to keep her family intact? How much corruption can Persephone ignore? And what, exactly, does it mean to be an American abroad when you’re not sure you understand your country anymore?
Propulsive and provocative, Embassy Wife asks what it means to be a human in this world, even as it helps us laugh in the face of our own absurd, seemingly impossible states of affairs.
A Best Book of July: Oprah Daily, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle
A Summer Reading Pick: Time, Buzzfeed, Parade, The Star Tribune, Alma, The Burlington Free Press, BiblioLifestyle, The New York Post
“[A] sharply observed satire of the white-savior complex and the poisonous legacy of colonialism.”
—Jennifer Steil, The New York Times Book Review
“This terrific comic novel… paints a funny portrait of American privilege, and [Crouch’s] depiction of Namibia is colorful and affectionate.”
—Connie Ogle, The Star Tribune
“A devilishly au courant satire that skewers white privilege and colonialism.”
“Crouch’s narrator varies points of view but always with a satirical eye... While remaining a fun, fast farce, the novel touches on issues of racism, corruption, dishonesty and smuggling.”
—L.A. Taggart, San Francisco Chronicle
“Delightful, humorous and shocking… A page-turner filled with astute commentary on American expats, the legacy of colonialism, and white feminism.”
—Emily Burack, Alma
“Entertaining and insightful… Crouch presses her female characters to their limits, reaching notes of genuine triumph without sacrificing the wry comedy, while the red dust and heat of Namibia radiate off the page. This is a blast.”
"In addition to sketching complex characters with rich backstories, Crouch excels at moving the plot forward while not missing any opportunity to observe the human condition. With wit and tenderness, [Embassy Wife] explores the complicated nature of race, power, marriage, colonization, diplomacy, and community. A sharp, funny, page-turning romp."
"Crouch does an excellent job of bringing her characters to life and conveying the beauty and challenges of life in Namibia through their eyes. Recommended for readers who enjoy armchair travel, well-drawn characters, twisty plots, and complex relationships."
—Julie Ciccarelli, Library Journal
“[An] observant, funny satire. Unpredictable twists lead to an ending where everyone may not get what they want, but they get what they need. Suggest this one to fans of Meg Wolitzer and Maria Semple.”
—Nanette Donohue, Booklist
“Keenly observed and expertly crafted, Katie Crouch’s Embassy Wife is a wickedly irresistible novel.”
—Natalie Baszile, author of Queen Sugar
“Katie Crouch has crafted an honest and complicated novel of true human beings struggling to be more than they are with less than they should have. Embassy Wife is a deeply human story won with grace and elegance.”
—Chris Abani, author of GraceLand
“Embassy Wife is such a swift and delicious novel that a reader can be forgiven for looking up halfway through the book with the slow-dawning realization that all along, underneath this mordant farce, Katie Crouch had some sharp, urgent, and intricate things to say about colonization and race, privilege and power, and the often explosive intersection of all of these things in today’s Namibia. It is a fascinating novel, and beautifully told.”
—Lauren Groff, author of Florida
“Katie Crouch is an incredible writer—deft, fearless, super-smart, and compassionate—and Embassy Wife is one of the funniest, sharpest, most insightful novels I’ve read in a long time. It’s also a flat- out page-turner: I read it in a single feverish sitting. I can’t recommend this novel highly enough.”
—Molly Antopol, author of The UnAmericans
“Embassy Wife sparkles with intelligence and sly humor. It is an exploration of identity—marriage, career, family, and citizenship—and what happens when those once-fixed ideas begin to crack. This novel is pure pleasure.”
—Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty
“Embassy Wife showcases Katie Crouch’s mastery of the three skills I most value as a reader and writer: keen and sensitive observation of human behavior, a wry sense of humor, and authenticity of character. Namibia comes off the page with its dusty heat, its slow pace of life, its nascent and unfolding place in history, and the sheer pressure of the drama that unfolds.”
—Rémy Ngamije, author of The Eternal Audience of One