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Vodka and Apple Juice: Travels of an Undiplomatic Wife in Poland

Written by Jay Martin


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When Jay’s husband lands a diplomatic job in Warsaw, she jumps at the opportunity to escape her predictable life in Canberra for a three-year adventure in the heart of central Europe.

Jay shelves her corporate wardrobe and throws herself into life as a diplomatic wife. Between glamorous cocktail parties and ambassadorial shenanigans, Jay sets out to get to know quirky, difficult, fascinating Poland, with its impenetrable language and sometimes unfathomable customs.

It’s a challenge even for an intrepid traveller with a willing heart. Not to mention a marriage that increasingly doesn’t look as if it will survive its third Polish winter.


'Humorous and graceful ... Vodka and Apple Juice depicts a woman’s
search for identity with a winning mixture of pain and aplomb.' Foreword Magazine

'Her honesty about her deficiencies is quite disarming ... Despite the dark moments when the marriage is under grave strain, this is a hugely enjoyable memoir of embassy life and an illuminating insight into Polish culture.' ANZ LitLovers

'Travel memoirs from this part of the world are few and far between. After reading this book, it’s hard to comprehend why that is – Poland is country with an exceptionally rich culture and history, and Vodka & Apple Juice captures Polish life with a lot of tenderness and humour.' Kill Your Darlings

'Her witty observations, verbatim translations of her attempts at Polish, and keen eye for human foibles across cultures make this memoir a joy to read. As well, it is an informative view of a Poland most of us in the West know little about, and of the way history shapes national character.' Writing WA

'Humorous and graceful ... Vodka and Apple Juice depicts a woman's search for identity with a winning mixture of pain and aplomb.' Foreword Reviews

'This is a candid, brave and amusing book that should be handed to every spouse of every diplomat going to their first overseas posting.' Good Reading



City of Fremantle T.A.G. Hungerford Award (Winner 2016)

ISBN 9781925591316 (Paperback)
Formats B+ Format (208 x 140mm) (Paperback)
Categories ebooks
T.A.G. Hungerford Winners
Sport, Travel & Entertainment
Autobiography, Biography & Memoir
Current Affairs, Culture & Social History
Book Club Reads
Christmas 2020
Publisher Fremantle Press
Edition 1st
Publication Year 2018
Pages 312
  • Author image

    Jay Martin

    Jay Martin grew up in Melbourne and lived in the UK, Vietnam, India, Japan and Perth before moving to Canberra, where she worked as a social policy adviser and inadvertently married a diplomat. While in Poland, Jay worked as a freelance writer for Australian and European publications, volunteered at the Warsaw Uprising Museum and baked one decent chocolate cake. She came to understand snow and vodka, but never, really, pickled herring. Jay currently lives with her husband in Alberta, Canada. Read more