Susan Conely’s honest and introspective memoir Foremost Good Fortune is a gripping read involving multiple, interconnecting spheres. Covering the time surrounding the Beijing Olympics when she lived in China with her husband and young sons, it’s part travelogue, part chronicle of the expat experience in one of the world’s most powerful and fascinating nations, and part a record of what it feels like to leave just about everything and everyone you know to start a new life. Most authors of books on relocating to an exotic part of the world are thrilled to be on their journey. Susan Conely is openly ambivalent and that is part of what makes this book so eye-opening and interesting. It’s her husband’s love of China that led the family across the world to where he had found a two year job. Her sons were resistant and unhappy at first, but then they seemed to be adjusting faster than she was. Though Conely is both accomplished and independent she did not arrive in China knowing the language and so found herself uncomfortably more dependent on her husband than she ever had been at home in Maine. Starting from scratch she began learning the language, finding friends and enjoying her life in a new and sometimes beautiful country. Then she got cancer. That’s a journey I’ve been on, and her description of how deeply disorienting it is, how it changes the way you think and look at the world in ways neither you or your loved ones can always anticipate were true to my experience. A well written page turner.