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A story of how I became an expat worker and my life while working in fifteen countries spread through the Middle, Far East and North Africa. The book is intended to show that there is much more to life than a boring 9-5 job/ As an expat, I lived a life most only dream.
Follow in the Tigerman’s Footsteps by Colin Guest is a collection of stories about a British expat’s adventures while working overseas on various hotel and palace construction projects. Beginning in the 1980’s and spanning 19 years, the author has visited many different countries during his career and has had a taste of a wide range of cultures, traditions, and friendships which he shares here in his memoir.
This book is not written in a story format; there is no overarching plot theme or conflict to resolve. Rather, it is like sitting by a fire and listening to your grandfather recount his tales from his youth. The book is broken down by chapters, one per job contract in each country. However, within each chapter, each segmented story ranges from one paragraph to a page and a half long. Some of the short memory blurbs are dramatic, others have great detail about vivid scenes, while others are about the mundane tasks to be completed on a construction site. The author has a terrific memory to recall so many details and minute daily happenings from so many years ago. Several of the characters that are present throughout the chapters are really brought to life in his memory.
In the first half of the book the author decides to work overseas to better support his family because the jobs available to him in England are difficult and low paying. However, the author is alone and is only able to see his wife and daughters once every three months. The fact of this, and that his daughters are growing up away from him, do not receive that much introspection in the memoir, which I found to be a little disappointing. Rather, the first half of the book is mostly made up of funny drinking stories with his fellow expat buddies from the work site. His wife and younger daughter eventually join him later on when he is allowed a married status contract in Turkey. His family falls in love with the country, sells their home in England, and settles down in Turkey.
As for the narrative, the sentence structures are repetitive, especially in the dialogue. The speech is clunky and unrealistic, not organic. As this is all paraphrased from memory from years ago, though, it is understandable. The timeline of events also gets a little muddy and difficult to trace. The beginning of each chapter opens on an exciting scene and then retraces its steps to arrive there. There are a few instances where the events are repeated, and the short pieces of stories seem to jump around as they come to the narrator's memory. However, these criticisms I have about the writing style can add to the illusion of listening to a grandfather’s memories as they come to him. There are also some typos and grammatical errors, but they are not too distracting from the story.
Overall I give Follow in the Tigerman’s Footsteps 2 out of 4 stars. It was interesting to see tidbits about other cultures, but I wish there was more focus on what he’s learned and less about drinking stories and construction details, such as installing carpets. I also would have liked to know more about his family growing up and their reactions to their father working overseas, and about his retirement afterward. I felt the book ended a little suddenly at the end of his final job and it did not reveal what happens to his family. The author also has another book about more of his adventures as an expat; these details may be elaborated in his other work. This book may appeal to readers who are interested in other cultures, particularly the middle east, are looking for some inspiration for new challenges and adventures, or are looking for something with short stories to read through quickly.
As an expat who worked in fifteen countries spread through the Middle, Far East and North Africa, Colin Guest has lived a life most only dream. He has self-published seven books. Two have been made into Audiobooks, with three more due to be completed in early 2019.
A number of Colin’s articles have been published in online magazines and one in a UK expat magazine. A local newspaper in Colin’s hometown in England published an article about him. In conjunction with Voyage Media, Colin prepared a pilot episode based on his memoir that they think could be suitable for a television series. Colin has taken part in several online interviwes and once took part in a live online American radio show. Colin uses his website www.colinguestauthor and various social media accounts to help publise his books.
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