Embassy Wife: A Novel (Paperback)
"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.
About the Author
Katie Crouch is the New York Times bestselling author of Girls in Trucks, Men and Dogs, and Abroad. She has also written essays for The New York Times, Glamour, The Guardian, Slate, Salon, and Tin House. A former resident of Namibia and San Francisco, Crouch now lives in Vermont with her family and teaches creative writing at Dartmouth College.
A Joyce Carol Oates Prize Nominee
A Best Book of July: Oprah Daily, TIME, Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, Glamour
A Summer Reading Pick: TIME, Buzzfeed, Parade, The Star Tribune, Alma, The Burlington Free Press, BiblioLifestyle, Lit Hub, CrimeReads, The Millions
“Don’t take this book too seriously, and it will entertain you, seriously.”
—Ellen Akins, The Washington Post
“[A] sharply observed satire of the white-savior complex and the poisonous legacy of colonialism.”
—Jennifer Steil, The New York Times Book Review
“[A] subtle concoction of sugar and medicine . . . Come for the romp but stay for the study of human nature and human survival.”
—Bethanne Patrick, The Los Angeles Times
“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.”
“Part comedy, part insightful social and cultural critique, part sheer delight . . . [with a] whip-smart sense of humor . . . Crouch brings memorable characters to life one brilliant detail, one deft bite of dialogue at a time.”
—Stephanie Hunt, The Post and Courier
“While remaining a fun, fast farce, the novel touches on issues of racism, corruption, dishonesty and smuggling . . . Deft, sly.”
—L.A. Taggart, The San Francisco Chronicle
“Smart, funny [and] with heart . . . Crouch artfully pillories American exceptionalism and colonialism through families living in various degrees of luxury and conformity while propelling the novel through mysteries and deception.”
—The National Book Review
“Delightful, humorous and shocking . . . A page-turner filled with astute commentary on American expats, the legacy of colonialism, and white feminism.”
—Emily Burack, Alma
“Gossip and intrigue, delivered with wit and wry humor. Katie Crouch’s latest page-turner, Embassy Wife, has everything you could possibly want in a summer read.”
“[Crouch’s] wit [is] dark and bone-dry . . . [her] satire is cutting . . . As armchair tourism goes, it's quite a ride.”
—Margot Harrison, Seven Days
“What a joy it was to travel from the comfort of my own couch to the world of diplomats (and their local associates) in Embassy Wife . . . Hilarious.”
—Miriam Parker, CrimeReads
“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