In his memoir, a Frenchman-turned-Englishman recalls marrying an Australian girl and moving to the land Down Under, chronicling the first 365 days of his new life on the other side of the world.
On July 20, 2012—the dead of what passes for winter in Sydney—Vojetta (Opération Marie, 2013) offered his first post from the world’s biggest island. Thus begins the epistolary structure of this memoir—a single entry for each day, musing on the observed similarities and differences between Australia and the other countries he has called home. The Vojetta readers meet is a financial analyst–turned-writer who has published two previous books in French under the pseudonym Lawrence Tajevot. Vojetta, it seems, is most comfortable using an alias, so before two months of entries have elapsed, he has created a third-person version of himself named “Ollie,” in deference to Australians’ apparent love of abbreviations and acronyms. Ollie’s life in Sydney is a blessed one: He is entranced by the city’s seemingly eternal sunshine and outdoor sporting opportunities, and his pursuit of a new flat, a new car and frequent travel indicate that he has few financial worries. But his life also seems an oddly isolated one. Even a stranger in a strange land—particularly one who is married—will interact with other human beings from time to time, but Vojetta’s insistence on the third-person voice gives the impression that nearly all the observations and experiences are Ollie’s alone, companionless. Even his wife, who presumably accompanied him on most adventures, appears in the narrative only rarely (on Valentine’s Day, for instance. Perhaps because of this, an air of self-indulgence permeates Ollie’s entries—what might be a slightly inflated sense of the profundity of his observations or the wittiness of his wordplay. Ollie may also be overconfident in his English writing skills, which, while not deplorable, clearly indicate that he is not a native speaker: “But then, to follow grammar rules to the letter is perhaps even more important than simplicity. And this is why CEO’s (sic) tweeting is without doubt asking for trouble.”
A toothless, mildly entertaining read for lovers of Australia and expats.