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I Don't Know How She Does it (Movie Tie-in Edition) (Vintage Contemporaries) Paperback – August 9, 2011
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Allison Pearson's debut novel, I Don't Know How She Does It, is a rare and beautiful hybrid: a devastatingly funny novel that's also a compelling fictional world. You want to climb inside this book and inhabit it. However, you might find it pretty messy once you're in there. Narrator Kate Reddy is the manager of a hedge fund and mother of two small children. The book opens with an emblematic scene as Kate "distresses" a store-bought mince pie to make it appear homemade. Her days are measured in increments of minutes and even seconds; her fund stays organized but her house and family are falling apart. The book is a pearly string of great lines. Here's Kate on lack of sleep: "They're right to call it a broken night.... You crawl back to bed and you lie there trying to do the jigsaw of sleep with half the pieces missing." On baby boys: "A mother of a one-year-old son is a movie star in a world without critics." On subtle office dynamics:
The women in the offices of EMF [Kate's firm] don't tend to display pictures of their kids. The higher they go up the ladder, the fewer the photographs. If a man has pictures of kids on his desk, it enhances his humanity; if a woman has them it decreases hers. Why? Because he's not supposed to be home with the children; she is.There's inherent drama here: Kate is wildly appealing, and we want things to work out for her. In the end, the book isn't a just collection of clever lines on the theme of working motherhood; it's a real, rich novel about a character we come to cherish. --Claire Dederer --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
From Publishers Weekly
This scintillating first novel has already taken its author's native England by storm, and in the tradition of Bridget Jones, to which it is likely to be compared, will almost certainly do the same here. The Bridget comparison has only limited validity, however: both books have a winning female protagonist speaking in a diary-like first person, and both have quirkily formulaic chapter endings. But Kate is notably brighter, wittier and capable of infinitely deeper shadings of feeling than the flighty Bridget, and her book cuts deeper. She is the mother of a five-year-old girl and a year-old boy, living in a trendy North London house with her lower-earning architect husband, and is a star at her work in an aggressive City of London brokerage firm. She is intoxicated by her jet-setting, high-profile job, but also is desperately aware of what it takes out of her life as a mother and wife, and scrutinizes, with high intelligence and humor, just how far women have really come in the work world. If that makes the book sound polemical, it is anything but. It is delightfully fast moving and breathlessly readable, with dozens of laugh-aloud moments and many tenderly touching ones-and, for once in a book of this kind, there are some admirable men as well as plenty of bounders. Toward the end-to which a reader is reluctant to come-it becomes a little plot-bound, and everything is rounded off a shade too neatly. But as a hilarious and sometimes poignant update on contemporary women in the workplace, it's the book to beat.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Of course this book is over the top -- doesn't it have to be to be entertaining? Even I found myself saying "I don't know how she does it." But there are many thoughts in the book that are right-on and thought provoking. Take for example Kate Reddy's observation that fathers that leave work early or schedule business around their family commitments are lauded as "involved fathers" when mothers doing the same are suspected of not being committed to their work or are seen as unreliable or unaccessible. Whether you are a mom working full-time outside the home or not, this and many other insights in the book highlight interesting social issues.
I would be interested to know whether this book appeals to stay-at-home moms. I suspect not based on the fact that many of my own stay-at-home friends have little interest in what my life is like and often think that a mother who works full-time outside the home is akin to a mother who eats her young.
As for mothers working full-time outside the home, this book is sure to be a winner and a welcomed comic relief. As for myself, I plan to give this book to my mother for Christmas to help her understand the dilemmas of being a professional and a mother of young children and the difficulty of "having it all".
I've read chunks of this book to my husband, to friends, and e-mailed selected tidbits to my sister. It's that good. ...Kate Reddy doesn't whine; she articulates, with wit and perception, what's so unspeakably tough about the shoes she's walking in. Even if they're fudge-colored pencil heels worn with an Armani suit as corporate armor!
Terrific. I know how she does it, now can someone tell me how I do it? I only have the kids in common.
As a struggling, overeducated, extremely underpaid, single mother, this book was a total disappointment. Even comedy must have some reality to it. There are cute bits - yes, mothers are competitive - but the treacly attitude does them in. And at the end? SHE can walk away and 99% of us cannot; it's a copout. I was very disappointed with this book.
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