From her apartment in Yokohama,
Japan – isolated by barriers of language both written and spoken, with only her husband to talk to although surrounded
by millions in the world’s largest city – Margie Tovrea sends out a cry for help over the Internet. From her home
near Houston , Texas , Sandy D----- answers that cry.
This story of an expatriate
wife, who follows her husband while his job assignments take him from foreign country to foreign country (as well as all over
the United States), could not have been written in an earlier era even though Americans have been living and working overseas
for as long as this country has existed. What makes Margie’s Japan experience (and therefore, this book) unique is the
immediacy of her correspondence with her friend Sandy, who has more than an inkling about what Margie is going through because
Sandy’s husband is in the same business. In fact, the two women met while both were living in a Western employees’
compound in Saudi Arabia , when their husbands had earlier assignments there.
Sandy becomes Margie’s lifeline, offering an almost daily window into The Real World. Where one can
buy food that looks and tastes familiar, and has readable labels. Where the trades people with whom a woman must deal treat
her as a valued customer, instead of as an intruder whose presence in their country gives constant offense. Where there are
books to read and people to talk to, and where the bills she must pay make sense – as do the operating instructions
on her household appliances!
Being an expatriate wife isn’t
new to Margie, but living in a land where she feels completely unwelcome and where there are absolutely no other Western residents
within reach is something she never imagined before experiencing it. Sandy, the true friend every human being deserves but
may not be fortunate enough to find, experiences it right along with her. Gladly and lovingly, responding to Margie’s
e-mails with messages that make one thing plain to any reader who ever had a close friend: the woman in Texas is drawing just
as much emotional sustenance, and is learning just as many lessons from their correspondence, as the one in Japan .
You’ll learn a lot about
the Far East by reading From the Far Side of the Sun. You’ll also learn what life is like for U.S. workers abroad
on more typical assignments, and for the families who follow them. But what you will remember about this book, and would not
find in any more conventional “travel story,” is the friendship that prompted its e-mails.
--Reviewed by Nina M. Osier,
author of "Love, Jimmy: A Maine Veteran's Longest Battle"