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Reviewed by Stephanie Dagg for Readers' Favorite
"One Year in Wonderland" by Christopher Combe is the story of his family’s year as expats in Dubai from 2006 to 2007. The author seizes the chance to work abroad in the construction industry when it comes his way so that he can experience another country first hand. And so do we. We visit the bustling streets and shiny shopping malls and go to hospital with him. We experience Ramadan from the inside. We grumble at the clumsy bureaucracy too. But generally there is an air of wonder about this book - appropriate given its title - but also frustration. How can such a hot, dry country consume 500 litres of water per day per person? How can there be so much luxury and extravagance on one hand, while sectors of its population struggle to make a living?
The book is built from blog entries the author wrote at the time and takes the diary form. Little amusing incidents are brought to light and there is no rose-coloured, general reminiscences. I feel that merging collections of entries into chapters with a little more editing might have been a better approach. Just occasionally it becomes a touch tedious with all the accounts of shopping trips. However, in general it is lively, chatty and extremely readable. At the end, the author is sad to leave this beautiful and infuriating place that has been his home. He concludes that though it may have been a waste of money, it was never a waste of time. You feel that he is a wiser man for having lived in Wonderland and discovered himself there.