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We hit a record in February with the largest group yet, 21 people attended the meeting to discuss The Expats by Chris Pavone (rhymes with phoney). We welcomed Jeanne and Rita to the group and hope to continue to see both of them at the meetings.

The Expats is Chris Pavone’s debut novel and is billed as a spy novel. It made the NY Times Bestseller list and won the 2013 Edgar Award and the 2013 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. It kind of follows the author’s real life experience of being an expat in Luxembourg. He quit his day job to follow his wife and take care of his 2 small children. In the book, though, he gives his main character (a woman) the job of CIA agent who gives up her career (one she thinks her husband knows nothing about) to follow him to Luxembourg where he has a very lucrative job in the banking industry.

The book offered a lively discussion and the ratings were kind of across the board. I’ll start with the low scores and work my way up. A few members scored the book very low, in the 3 to 4 range. The reasons seemed to be similar: it was “boring, slow, unlikely.” Some people didn’t buy the fact that Julie would have quit her CIA job to move to Luxembourg with nothing to do but take care of the house and kids.

Then we had some middle of the road scores in the 5, 6 and 7 range. The people in this range complained about the switching back and forth in the timeline. I know I had trouble following the audio for this reason, and some people who read it on their e-readers said that the type does not show up in a different font like it does in the physical book—confusing. There were also some comments that it dragged in the beginning, but gained points because the cyber theft part was interesting.

The high scores seemed to be in the 8 range with a few 9s (I think Raj even went to 10). This group, which is the group I fell into, enjoyed the foreign locale and the plot twists. We found it very entertaining and enjoyed the story and characters (even if we didn’t quite buy all of their actions).

What I found extremely interesting is that some of the low scoring people mentioned that they liked the foreign locale or the cyber theft, while some of the high scorers mentioned the hard to follow timeline and the fact that it lacked realism. So the low scorers saw some good and the high scorers saw some bad. We all basically rated the book on its entertainment value rather than realism, after all…it IS fiction!

It was interesting to hear about group members who have been, or currently are, expats. Others have been to Luxembourg and were able to talk a bit about what it’s like there. The author’s website has a few photos of the area and an interview. Also, the movie rights have been purchased, so we’ll have to be on the lookout for that movie to be made and schedule a field trip.

This month we will be meeting on Monday, March 24th to discuss A Wanted Man by Lee Child (a little Jack Reacher fix). Sharon will lead and Linda will be providing snacks. See you then!

The Book Movement site is not cooperating at the moment, so we are unable to send emails through their site. You can still log on to see what books we are reading and to suggest books for the next vote. We will be choosing 6 books for the second half of the year at the April meeting, so get your ideas in soon.

Kerry

Secret Agent, Book Agent, All the Same

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