Book Review: Burge shows 'devil' in living abroad
For those of us who have traveled to - or dreamed of traveling to - European countries, or wondered what it might be like to stay a while and work in one of those distant countries, Jennifer Burge's travel memoir, "The Devil Wears Clogs," can well be a fascinating - and useful - read.
Burge takes us first to Germany, where her company sends her to live and work. Although Germany had never been one of the countries of her dreams, she is ecstatic about the adventure. Understandably, she romanticizes the idea of "living abroad" rather than hitting the books to prepare for the challenges she will face. The day she arrives in Heidelberg, she weeps at the "picture perfect" view of the Medieval city out her hotel window and at the "extraordinary gift" of having 12 months to live there.
Things get less picture perfect when she settles into her "shoebox" size apartment, and she describes her trials when attending to necessities such as getting a cell phone that works in her temporary country, getting a bank account set up, and merely shopping for food and clothing. The "superbly simply concept of [German] customer service," she comes to believe, "is take it or leave it."
Her gradual learning of how to live and work in German culture is relieved by frequent and enjoyable forays with colleagues to conferences in such glamourous places as Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Amsterdam and other places, combining much in the way of learning and fun.
"Germany had shown me that social rules exist in Europe. In fact, there are far too many to mention and you only find them out by accident. There is no manual to study," she writes.
Through all the cultural adventure and learning, Burge searches for love, and after a few rough bumps and heartaches, finds it, so a love story is buried among her travels.
Come hear her at the Peregrine Book Company on Saturday, June 13, at 2 p.m. as she reads from hilarious experiences in her book and talks about her many other travels since.
Peregrine Book Company, 219-A N. Cortez St., is in downtown Prescott.