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Vodka and Apple Juice

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When Jay’s husband lands a diplomatic job in Warsaw, she jumps at the opportunity to escape her predictable life in Canberra for a three-year adventure in the heart of central Europe. Jay shelves her corporate wardrobe and throws herself into life as a diplomatic wife. Between glamorous cocktail parties and ambassadorial shenanigans, Jay sets out to get to know quirky, diff When Jay’s husband lands a diplomatic job in Warsaw, she jumps at the opportunity to escape her predictable life in Canberra for a three-year adventure in the heart of central Europe. Jay shelves her corporate wardrobe and throws herself into life as a diplomatic wife. Between glamorous cocktail parties and ambassadorial shenanigans, Jay sets out to get to know quirky, difficult, fascinating Poland, with its impenetrable language and sometimes unfathomable customs. It’s a challenge even for an intrepid traveller with a willing heart. Not to mention a marriage that increasingly doesn’t look as if it will survive its third Polish winter.


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When Jay’s husband lands a diplomatic job in Warsaw, she jumps at the opportunity to escape her predictable life in Canberra for a three-year adventure in the heart of central Europe. Jay shelves her corporate wardrobe and throws herself into life as a diplomatic wife. Between glamorous cocktail parties and ambassadorial shenanigans, Jay sets out to get to know quirky, diff When Jay’s husband lands a diplomatic job in Warsaw, she jumps at the opportunity to escape her predictable life in Canberra for a three-year adventure in the heart of central Europe. Jay shelves her corporate wardrobe and throws herself into life as a diplomatic wife. Between glamorous cocktail parties and ambassadorial shenanigans, Jay sets out to get to know quirky, difficult, fascinating Poland, with its impenetrable language and sometimes unfathomable customs. It’s a challenge even for an intrepid traveller with a willing heart. Not to mention a marriage that increasingly doesn’t look as if it will survive its third Polish winter.

30 review for Vodka and Apple Juice

  1. 5 out of 5

    Candace

    3.5 stars I enjoyed this travel memoir from Australian Jay Martin documenting her three year stay in Poland. Her husband Tom, who was Australian’s diplomat in Warsaw was supremely busy why Martin struggled with her years “not working”, traveling, learning Polish, and keeping their marriage together. Martin has a good sense of humor and this was a quick read. Recommended for travel and language lovers; Polish and Australians and diplomats. Pub date Sept 1.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Wiola Myszkowska

    As a reporter my job is to go, understand people I've met (try at least) and pass it further. Very often I deal with foreigners (therefore I know the feeling when You know that You don't know anything). I couldn't wait to read similar book about my country and, well, myself. I couldn't wait for her to discover that beautiful absurdity of Poland which I really love (because in country like that there is always something to write about). For the first part I was a bit disappointed that Mrs. Martin As a reporter my job is to go, understand people I've met (try at least) and pass it further. Very often I deal with foreigners (therefore I know the feeling when You know that You don't know anything). I couldn't wait to read similar book about my country and, well, myself. I couldn't wait for her to discover that beautiful absurdity of Poland which I really love (because in country like that there is always something to write about). For the first part I was a bit disappointed that Mrs. Martin :) speaks very little with Poles (are we really that closed? Or used to be back then?) just scratching the surface. But then, the other part of book gave me what I wanted: things about my country that were new to me: "narodowość" matter, being mean and kind at the same time, our fighter attitude, high position of "babcia" in hierarchy and how everything here has history and deep roots that we cherish so much. Or maybe it wasn't new at all to me but seeing it through eyes of Anglo-Saxon :) was new. Plus, a human story about lost expat's wife. P.S. Bardzo the Cat! <3

  3. 4 out of 5

    Literary Soirée

    “Vodka and Apple Juice: Travels of an Undiplomatic Wife in Poland” by Jay Martin won the 2018 City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award for Best First Manuscript, deservedly. This engaging memoir recounts three years in the life of a “trailing spouse” who leaves the corporate Canberra world for a challenging stint as a diplomat’s wife in Europe. Written with great grace, candor and good humor. 5/5 Pub Date 01 Sep 2018 Thanks to Fremantle Press and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. # “Vodka and Apple Juice: Travels of an Undiplomatic Wife in Poland” by Jay Martin won the 2018 City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award for Best First Manuscript, deservedly. This engaging memoir recounts three years in the life of a “trailing spouse” who leaves the corporate Canberra world for a challenging stint as a diplomat’s wife in Europe. Written with great grace, candor and good humor. 5/5 Pub Date 01 Sep 2018 Thanks to Fremantle Press and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. #VodkaAndAppleJuice #NetGalley

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sydney

    Disclaimer: I messed up when I started this book. I didn't read the description carefully and didn't realize it was a memoir for about half of it (OOPS). That obviously changed my opinion of the book, since a memoir has its own kind of style and storytelling. I found a lot of Martin's anecdotes about expat life amusing and relatable, especially in the beginning when she was still learning about the country and trying to figure things out. I lived in Italy for 4 months, so while definitely a diff Disclaimer: I messed up when I started this book. I didn't read the description carefully and didn't realize it was a memoir for about half of it (OOPS). That obviously changed my opinion of the book, since a memoir has its own kind of style and storytelling. I found a lot of Martin's anecdotes about expat life amusing and relatable, especially in the beginning when she was still learning about the country and trying to figure things out. I lived in Italy for 4 months, so while definitely a different experience than her 3 years abroad, the early days of adjusting to life in a new country were a similar experience. As an American, it was interesting to read about the European expat experience coming from a different country (Australia). I knew very little about Poland besides WWII history in school and absolutely zero about Polish-Australian relations going into this book. While that was neat, the book did drag at times. Some of the sections ended pretty abruptly. She'd start a new story way too close to the end of the chapter and then--oh! It's a new season and it doesn't continue much from the previous page. So that aspect of it was kind of distracting, hence the "average"/3 stars. Disclaimer 2: I received a free digital copy of this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Karo

    As a Pole, it's always interesting to read about Poland through the eyes of a Westerner. I greatly enjoyed reading the author's reflections on being a diplomat and the Polish psyche; however, I found the portion of the book dealing with her relationship with her husband to be the weakest by far. The marital discord portions of the book were not interwoven into the whole particularly well, and I felt that storyline would have been better served by a separate book.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ilana

    It happened often lately to have on my reading list memoirs written by wives of diplomats, sharing their impressions, frustrations and challenges of their life abroad. Trying - often unsuccessfully - to cope with the liguistic barriers, the sadness of being taken away from their jobs and former social and family responsibilities, with their marriage in a limbo. Maybe it should be created soon a new literary category of 'diplomatic wives memoirs'. At least, they lived to tell the story and almost It happened often lately to have on my reading list memoirs written by wives of diplomats, sharing their impressions, frustrations and challenges of their life abroad. Trying - often unsuccessfully - to cope with the liguistic barriers, the sadness of being taken away from their jobs and former social and family responsibilities, with their marriage in a limbo. Maybe it should be created soon a new literary category of 'diplomatic wives memoirs'. At least, they lived to tell the story and almost created a special genre. Jay Martin's memories of her 3 years accompanying her husband during his diplomatic assignment in Poland on behalf of the Austrialian embassy doesn't differ too much of previous works I've read. Wives able to write a memoir - and even knowing the local language - are obviously a step and a half further than the frustrated housewives spending their time calling their friends and relatives at 'home' and hardly going out of the appartment and appearing at embassy events only to complain about their precarious expat life. But besides the literay add on, the experiences as such are overwhelmingly boring. We all take decisions in life, some bad some good, and we need to get the best of it. More than one episode about the diplomat of husband coming back home early in the morning after spending the night who known where doesn't make it as a story for me, unless there is really something interesting that happened during this time. Or the wife reacted somehow, or whatever can be relevant to a story you share with the world... But besides adopting a worn out perspective on diplomatic encounters and daily life - 'Poland is cool. It's just that my life here sometimes seems like an endless round of cocktail events with complaining expat wives...' - Jay Martin really used her experience to get the best of it. She went all over the country, revealing travel destinations unfortunately mostly unknown outside the country, learned a language known for her relatively high level of complexity and explored Europe and even the badly famed Kaliningrad. Those part of the book are the best and I really enjoyed in their fullest, before another couple of pages of complaining and experiences of couple alienation. Would I recommend this book? Yes, if you are interested in European and particularly Polish history and if you are a diplomatic consort that would love one day to write a better memoir. I personally liked the cover - joyful and appealing to someone curious about Poland and with a call for wanderlust. Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chitra Ahanthem

    *I received a galley from NetGalley in exchange for a review. Jay Martin’s Vodka and Apple Juice is more than just the author’s account as a diplomat’s non working wife in the Australian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland over a period of three years. While she recounts for us what it means to work in diplomatic circles: the punishing hours, the endless protocol and security snares juxtaposed with social events; there are the perks of getting travel opportunities but bringing with it, the after effects on *I received a galley from NetGalley in exchange for a review. Jay Martin’s Vodka and Apple Juice is more than just the author’s account as a diplomat’s non working wife in the Australian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland over a period of three years. While she recounts for us what it means to work in diplomatic circles: the punishing hours, the endless protocol and security snares juxtaposed with social events; there are the perks of getting travel opportunities but bringing with it, the after effects on her marriage brought on by hectic hours of work and the stress that comes with it. The first chapters come across as light reading as Jay Martin takes us through her running commentary of adjusting to life in Poland and trying to make sense of all things Polish. But this light tone soon changes to one of genuine puzzlement as she tries to comprehend the language and the people that she encounters in her daily life even as she is facing the challenge of trying to fit in to the life of household chores but found wanting by her husband. Trying to fit in and adapt to a new life in a new culture, Jay Martin takes readers on a whirlwind of social gatherings where she is trying to forge the barest minimum of friendships. This part of the book is the most interesting for we get to know more of the landscape of Poland through Martin’s travels and her interactions in a reading group that gives us a brief introduction to Polish literature and writing as also Polish films. Filled with amusing insights and anecdotes, Vodka and Apple Juice is an engaging read with its heart in the right place. I loved this book for it is definitely more than a memoir but a slice of the author’s life and the lessons she discovers while complaining, learning, assimilating and finally, understanding a new culture. I will recommend this book for people who love reading about different cultures and who are looking at travelling to Poland anytime soon or in the future.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    A copy of this book was given to me via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Vodka and Apple Juice is the fun, fascinating memoir by Jay Martin, who lived in Poland for three years on a diplomatic posting from her native Australia. Now, I’ve never been particularly interested in Poland, per se, but having been an expat for a (very small) amount of time, I do have a thirst for expat memoirs, and this one really hit the spot. Martin’s voice is friendly and easy, and the book itself, though M A copy of this book was given to me via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Vodka and Apple Juice is the fun, fascinating memoir by Jay Martin, who lived in Poland for three years on a diplomatic posting from her native Australia. Now, I’ve never been particularly interested in Poland, per se, but having been an expat for a (very small) amount of time, I do have a thirst for expat memoirs, and this one really hit the spot. Martin’s voice is friendly and easy, and the book itself, though Martin does explore some of the downsides of living away from one’s home country and having a high-pressure job – or a spouse with a high-pressure job – overall the book is very enthusiastic about Poland and the expat experience. Martin’s enjoyment in exploring her new country is palpable, making for a rollicking adventure of a read. I loved the small bits about finding familiar objects, working out how to function on a day-to-day basis and so on. The author’s exploration of the history of the area piqued my curiosity as well, but mostly, I became very nostalgic for that sense of adventure that one feels when navigating a foreign country, culture, and language. While Poland was never really on my radar, Vodka and Apple Juice truly brings the country to life. I would definitely recommend this book to any reader interested in travel stories or travel memoirs – or diplomatic memoirs, specifically.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I enjoyed this book quite a lot! In fact, it was the best travel books I've read in a long time. When I read a travel book, I want something intelligent, interesting, a little adventurous, thoughtful but not too critical or controversial. This book hit the mark. The book gave a realistic tour around the former Eastern Bloc country of Poland, along with side trips to Prague, London, and Kaliningrad. The author painted nice pictures of the charm of Poland, but she also offered a fair portrait of th I enjoyed this book quite a lot! In fact, it was the best travel books I've read in a long time. When I read a travel book, I want something intelligent, interesting, a little adventurous, thoughtful but not too critical or controversial. This book hit the mark. The book gave a realistic tour around the former Eastern Bloc country of Poland, along with side trips to Prague, London, and Kaliningrad. The author painted nice pictures of the charm of Poland, but she also offered a fair portrait of the Polish people and their culture. She detailed her challenges of settling into a totally new city and culture without sounding whiny. She overcame her challenges over the course of the book and ended up speaking Polish like a native. I admire that. Underlying her descriptions of her travels through Poland were the tensions and struggles of being both a diplomat's spouse and a non-working spouse. These elements of the book provided tension without drowning the book in too much drama and were well handled. I appreciated that the author finally realized that overall, she led quite a nice life during her time in Poland. Highly recommended! I've read a lot of travel books set in Eastern Europe, and this was one of the best.

  10. 4 out of 5

    LC

    I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy this at first - I think it took a couple of chapters for Jay to find her voice. It was worth pushing through to watch the rest of the story unfold. Jay and her husband Tom give up their comfortable public servant life in Canberra to pack up and move to Warsaw for three years, so Tom can live out his dream of being an Australian diplomat. The hours are long for him and the experience isolating for them both and puts a strain on their marriage. Jay is the ideal expat. Rathe I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy this at first - I think it took a couple of chapters for Jay to find her voice. It was worth pushing through to watch the rest of the story unfold. Jay and her husband Tom give up their comfortable public servant life in Canberra to pack up and move to Warsaw for three years, so Tom can live out his dream of being an Australian diplomat. The hours are long for him and the experience isolating for them both and puts a strain on their marriage. Jay is the ideal expat. Rather than lamenting her lack of work, she sees the opportunity of life abroad as a career break and instead throws herself headfirst into her new life - learning the extraordinarily difficult Polish language, making Polish friends, travelling around and eventually writing about this new country that becomes her temporary home. It’s not all sunshine and puppy dogs tails (what life is?) but her ability to pull herself out of the ruts she finds herself in is commendable (although sometimes she assisted with the help of well meaning, yet frank close friends). Told with good humour, this is a really interesting insight into both the expat experience and the life of a diplomat and Polish culture as a whole.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    This is a solid 5 star read! Not in the sense of a generational lifetime classic, but certainly in the sense of a very well-written book about a situation most do not experience and how this author gets through it and comes out the other side. As someone who has considered moving to another country, albeit not in the diplomatic corps, I found Martin's tale to be entertaining, enlightening, and at times frightening and frustrating. Highly recommended. My thanks to the publisher and to #NetGalley This is a solid 5 star read! Not in the sense of a generational lifetime classic, but certainly in the sense of a very well-written book about a situation most do not experience and how this author gets through it and comes out the other side. As someone who has considered moving to another country, albeit not in the diplomatic corps, I found Martin's tale to be entertaining, enlightening, and at times frightening and frustrating. Highly recommended. My thanks to the publisher and to #NetGalley for an advance copy. Greatly appreciated and enjoyed!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lana

    I really enjoyed this memoir. I have never been to Poland and the author's experiences were really interesting. I also was interested in her transition from having a successful career to being the supportive non-working spouse. Not sure how I would do in that role and her experience was very thought provoking.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Despite the dark moments when the marriage is under grave strain, this is a hugely enjoyable memoir of embassy life and an illuminating insight into Polish culture. Recommended for expats, tourists and anyone who enjoys a good chuckle. PS This MS was the first creative non-fiction manuscript to win the TAG Hungerford Award. To see my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/06/29/v...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Camden

  15. 5 out of 5

    Roxy

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kylie

  17. 4 out of 5

    Janet Wood

  18. 4 out of 5

    Eva Rojek

  19. 5 out of 5

    Haidar Alabadi

  20. 4 out of 5

    Źayed Ďawood

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anita Underwood

  22. 4 out of 5

    rosemary loquercio

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ann

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Vodka and Apple Juice by Jay Martin is her memoir of her three years she lived in Poland because her husband an Australian Diplomat was sent to live there. This book was an interesting look at a country that isn't usually touched upon in travel memoirs. I enjoyed this fact. I loved learning about life in Poland and reading how they felt in this country as well as their struggle to learn the Polish language. If you want a travel memoir about a country many overlook this is it. I loved reading abo Vodka and Apple Juice by Jay Martin is her memoir of her three years she lived in Poland because her husband an Australian Diplomat was sent to live there. This book was an interesting look at a country that isn't usually touched upon in travel memoirs. I enjoyed this fact. I loved learning about life in Poland and reading how they felt in this country as well as their struggle to learn the Polish language. If you want a travel memoir about a country many overlook this is it. I loved reading about their lives in Poland. I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a free copy in exchange for my honest and unbiased review

  25. 4 out of 5

    Susan

  26. 5 out of 5

    Paddy

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Listopad

  28. 4 out of 5

    Daniela

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anne

  30. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Farrell

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