“This book is not a
travelogue – still less a
political study of new
independence. It is a charming
and wittily told tale of how
one woman found so much
to learn and value among
peoples about whom the rest of
us know little or nothing.”

- Sir William Nicoll,
Former Director General,
Secretariat of the Council
of European Communities.

“The writing is excellent,
natural and graceful.
There is a comfortable,
old-fashioned feel, with
warmth, humour and an
amazingly vivid eye for detail.”

- Richard Addis, journalist,
Founder and Editor in Chief
of The Day.

“I’ve read a lot of books
by aspiring authors, some
of which were published,
and this one is a winner.
We laughed and cried, and
couldn’t wait for the next

- Mary Straiton,
lecturer in English,
Perth, Western Australia.

“A lively and beguiling tale
of Diplomatic Life.
I look forward to further

- Sir Roger Jackling,
former Director of the
Defence Academy of the
United Kingdom.

book cover

Published by Quartet Books on 5th April 2012, price £12.00

Culture Shock and Canapés offers a candid glimpse into the hidden world behind Embassy walls. It is a funny and human account of one young woman’s experiences in Africa and as she embarks on life overseas and struggles to adapt to the diplomatic life. The reader will laugh and cry with her stories of war-zones and witchcraft, of challenging and embarrassing domestic crises, the finding and losing of friends and pets. There are tales of exotic food, disastrous dinner parties and the traumas that can ensue when travelling families are caught up in political coups and crises. There is historical and sociological background with moments of reflection.

palm tree

Culture Shock and Canapés is much more than just a travel book. It tells the story of 25 years of life in Africa as a ‘Trailing Spouse’. In her mid 20s, the writer met her husband, who was then a priest, while studying in Italy. After a ten year separation they married, and KJ with his African expertise and experience was recruited as a Diplomatic ‘Training Advisor’ in Southern Africa.

The veil is lifted on Diplomatic Life in developing countries – very different from Paris or Washington .Events unfold in Swaziland, Post Independence Zimbabwe, Angola during the civil war, and Swaziland again. KJ is sent as Special Envoy to Somalia after the famine, before the ‘Black Hawk Down’ incident. He is also sent in to Rwanda immediately after the Genocide.

It has been said that behind every Ambassador stands a hard-working and perceptive woman. The author is one of those women. Not only a hostess, she is also a writer, musician, psychologist and counsellor. She shares the richness and challenges of the travelling life with the reader - creating and dismantling homes, making and losing friends, the stress and stimulus of new countries, new peoples, new customs and sometimes new languages as well. We feel her delight in what is different, diverting and beautiful in each country, as she explores its history and culture. At the same time, she retains a keen sense of the ridiculous, the bizarre and the absurd. She observes her own reactions with the same wry humour with which she observes others – whatever their nationality. Her attitude is one of openness and appreciation of different points of view. The book will appeal to anyone with a sense of humour, anyone who loves exotic places, and to the many thousands of families who have had their lives challenged and enriched by working overseas.

The book contains not only a wealth of human interest and side-splitting anecdotes, but is enriched by:

  • The writer’s knowledge and reflections on the history and sociology of cultures;
  • Her psychological studies into the problems of Cross Cultural adaptation;
  • Heart-warming stories of the pets that travelled with them;
  • Personal reactions to the challenges and incidents in each country;
  • Exotic and unusual recipes collected in each country along the way.