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Culture Shock and Canapés, By Pamela O'Cuneen

Embassy wife learns the gentle art of diplomacy

Pamela O'Cuneen's memoir begins without a date but with a horribly colonialist attitude, as she records her encounter with an African "warrior" when she first arrives in Swaziland. (To her shock, he speaks English. And in an Oxford accent.)

It gets worse – we have stories about the puppies she and her husband adopt, about the "ex-colonial theatre" group performing Iolanthe, how one manages the staff, and so on. But O'Cuneen is far more clued-up than she first appears and what emerges is actually an intelligent and often sensitive account of exactly what it's like to be the wife of a foreign diplomat, having little identity of your own and feeling powerless to improve conditions in some of the countries you live in.