The Expatriates by Janice YK Lee – Book Club Pick


Read this: ⁠⁠⁠⁠The Expatriates⁠ by Janice YK Lee

Watch this:  Expats, limited series on Prime Video

Overall Opinion of the Book

Claire: I liked the book. I will say it was slow at first, at least up until the kidnapping, they just gave us a ton of background info beforehand. Also, I do agree with what you said about Hilary and how this could have been a good enough show focusing on the family, but I also liked having her in the because it shows just how small a place like Hong Kong can be.

Julie: Not much happens for such a long book. I kept waiting for Hilary to end up with G to sort of close the circle. (I feel like it was set up for this with the adoption stuff and the thing said about being mixed.)
I thought we’d get a big climax at Clark’s 50th birthday party since they were all there.
I almost feel like I could have done without Hilary’s storyline if we could have gone deeper on Margaret, mercy, and the kidnapping. The lines about how life continues moving around you even while you’re going through a tragedy were kind of haunting.

Overall Opinion of the Show

Julie: I love the show opening. It made me hopeful that the focus would be more on what I was hoping for from the book. But it was ultimately a pretty big letdown. I felt like I’d seen Nicole Kidman play this part before – the mom who’s losing it.

Episode 5 – Why. That’s all I can say. Nothing from the book happens and it’s an hour and 40 minutes. Why?

Claire: Lt was okay. I just got a weird vibe from it in one of the first scenes – where Margaret met with the party planner. I just didn’t like the party planner. It felt like she was literally reading from a script as she was having her party of the conversation with Margaret. Other than that I don’t really have any complaints.

Before you say which you liked better, did you read the book or listen to the audiobook… because it matters.

Claire: Listened on Spotify.

Julie: Listened on Audible.

Which was better?

Julie: The book

Claire: The book


  1. Was the outcome the same in both the show and the book? Sort of.
  2. Was the main character/primary narrator the same in the show and the book? Sort of.
  3. Was the primary conflict the same in the show and the book? Sort of.
  4. Would you read the book again or recommend it to a friend? Yes
  5. Would you watch the show again or recommend it to a friend? No

To listen to the full episode on The Expatriates/Expats, check out But the Book Was Better on Apple and Spotify. Don’t forget to subscribe so you know exactly when each episode is released!


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