Danger and Romance in Foreign Lands
The book relates the experiences of a young foreign correspondent on his first assignment abroad in New Delhi, India, starting in the summer of 1976. The correspondent, Scott Higgins, is sent by his supervisor in New Delhi to report on political developments in neighboring Bangladesh and Pakistan, where tumultuous events were taking place. In time, Scott meets and falls in love with an accomplished Indian woman, Rakki, a banking executive. Ultimately, they elope to Nairobi, Kenya, where Scott is sent on his next assignment. They get married on a hurried trip to the U.S., and return to Nairobi to face serious political problems as a result of Scott's reporting. In the background of the adventure story and the love story is a tale of the difficulties of a cross-cultural marriage. The two main characters must deal not just with cultural differences but the reality of two careers that require travel and personal sacrifices. Several reviewers have noted that the story is a woman-friendly novel because the main female character emerges as the dominant personality in the marital relationship, and is the target of violence.
Inspiration for writing the book: Because I have lived in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Kenya, and have travelled extensively in France and the U.K.--all locales described in detail in the book--the novel gave me a chance to relate past experiences in those countries personally and professionally. I also was a student in India and later had postings at American embassies in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Kenya during my career as a Foreign Service Office, that is, as a member of the U.S. Diplomatic Service. The experiences I had, the individuals I knew and admired abroad, and even the challenges of cross-cultural love and romance were matters I wanted to present to the reading audience. The novel allows a reader to escape into other worlds for awhile and shrug off the mundane problems we all face in our ordinary lives, and to be able to do so while not personally putting oneself in danger.
The target audience can be anyone in America who seeks a bit of adventure reading, with more than a dash of romance thrown in. Specifically, however, the target audience are those readers in South Asia, East Africa, and the U.K. (and of course those in the U.S.) who are from those regions originally. There is a lot of local atmosphere that will make anyone from those areas a bit homesick, and for those who wish to travel to exotic foreign lands, it might inspire an adventure to explore the world.
Plot/Idea: 6 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 7 out of 10
Character/Execution: 5 out of 10
Overall: 6.50 out of 10
Plot/Idea: Though less an intimate romance and more of an intriguing look at a journalist's career as he travels to locales like New Delhi, Nairobi, and Paris, this novel is most engaging when it focuses on the reporting aspect of the story.
Prose: Eisenbraun brings each locale to life with superb detail, making tense scenes just as vivid as strolls along the Champs Élysées. However, the switches between first and third person can feel jarring and unnecessary.
Originality: Danger and Romance in Foreign Lands reads almost like a journalist's autobiographical account. From an encounter with deadly water buffalo to a champagne-filled evening in Paris, this is in some ways a unique take on the road novel.
Character Development/Execution: As a romance, the novel hinges on the central love story between Scott and Rakhi. Unfortunately, their relationship isn't given enough space in the novel to develop, and Eisenbraun's decision to leave their painful interactions unresolved may disappoint readers. Scott himself feels oddly passive at times, staying neutral in his personal thoughts, even when it comes to the tense political events he is covering.
Date Submitted: August 26, 2022