Hard life of a diplo­mat’s wife

Cockburn Gazette - - BOOK -

MEL­BOURNE-born Jay Martin never ex­pected to write a book about her three years liv­ing in Poland, but then again she never an­tic­i­pated be­com­ing the wife of a diplo­mat.

Pub­lished by Fre­man­tle Press, Vodka and Ap­ple Juice fol­lows her time in War­saw and the strug­gles she en­coun­tered along the way, in­clud­ing in her mar­riage and the lan­guage bar­rier.

“A lot of the events and char­ac­ters I came across in the diplo­matic world did seem to be straight out of a novel,” Martin said.

“Luck­ily I kept di­aries and other notes all through our time in Poland… so when I came to write a book about it, one of the first things I did was read through all of these doc­u­ments. It was amaz­ing how much I'd for­got­ten and how much some of the char­ac­ters who ended up in the book seemed to just jump out from the pages.”

One of Martin’s great­est chal­lenges with her story was mak­ing readers un­der­stand, de­spite War­saw be­ing an in­cred­i­bly live­able city, just how dif­fi­cult be­ing an ex­pat could be.

“I would say most peo­ple just con­sider that I was lucky to have had the op­por­tu­nity and don't see the down­sides,” she said.

“And I can un­der­stand that point of view. Could I make peo­ple feel em­pa­thy for some­one who is, on many lev­els, so for­tu­nate?

“It was ac­tu­ally quite har­row­ing writ­ing about some of the re­ally dif­fi­cult times I had in Poland. There’s one part that I’ve never read again, though. Even just skim­ming through it brings back the feel­ings of help­less­ness and de­spair I felt at that time.”

Martin and her hus­band bought a house in Fre­man- tle, sight un­seen from Poland, be­cause it was next door to where he had grown up.

The first-time au­thor wrote Vodka and Ap­ple Juice over the next three years dur­ing her bus com­mute between Fre­man­tle and the CBD.

It has won the City of Fre­man­tle T.A.G. Hunger­ford Award, the first cre­ative non-fic­tion man­u­script to do so.

Her hus­band has since been posted to Al­berta, Canada, but Martin said they planned to al­ways think of the port city as home.

“The day I ar­rived in Canada it was snow­ing and the wind was so cold that I thought my face would fall off,” she said.

“I con­fess I had a mo­ment of think­ing ‘What have I done?’ but if there is any­thing I learned from Poland, it’s that life, wher­ever it takes you, is all about the peo­ple you meet.

“And from what I've seen so far, Cana­di­ans are as easy as it gets to make friends with. They even call out ‘thank you’ to bus driv­ers when they get off. I thought it was just peo­ple from Perth who did that, so maybe we are kin­dred spir­its.”

Martin will launch Vodka and Ap­ple Juice at The Lo­cal Ho­tel, South Fre­man­tle, at 6pm on Septem­ber 4. Book­ings for the free event at www.eventbrite.com.au.

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