White’s debut is a polished memoir of expat life on the divided Greco-Turk isle of Cyprus.
Royal Air Force veteran White forthrightly narrates shady real-estate deals, interactions with Cypriot police and other misadventures with dry British wit. His descriptions of the ups and downs of purchasing a house in Cyprus are worthy of travel memoirs like Under the Tuscan Sun. He is similarly skilled in describing the recent political history of Cyprus. However, this memoir primarily describes the author’s attempts at carving a business niche on the island in his retirement years. He can’t seem to slow down and enjoy the natural beauty of Cyprus, except for brief moments. While White focuses on the minute details of his business transactions, his personal life and humanizing descriptions of his family are neglected. The characters of White’s wife Esmé, his children and grandchildren get second billing to stories of arranging financing for business ventures and assisting in the management of a school for expat children. It comes as less of a shock then, late in the memoir, when he and his wife of about three decades decide to quietly part ways. Given White’s business-first mentality, readers may be surprised by what comes next: a “platonic” yet intense relationship with a married younger woman whose husband works overseas. As his lady friend remains committed to her marriage, White serves as a kind of chivalrous helper to his new companion. This gives the latter sections of the memoir a different tone, as his previous concerns fall away in the face of this new bond. White, in his typically removed British style, minimizes the emotional impact of this transformation and the resulting change in his life.
An unusual memoir that blends business with platonic love.