This novel about the roller-coaster ride of modern motherhood brings its thrills and travails into such terrifying focus that it's practically an IMAX experience, with Lego, Disney videos, and corporate e-mails flying at you from all directions. It opens at 1 A.M. in the kitchen of thirty-five-year-old Kate Reddy, hedge-fund manager and mother of two, who is hitting Sainsbury mince pies with a rolling pin so that they can pass for home-made at her daughter's school: "Now we can manage the orgasms, but we have to fake the mince pies. And they call this progress." The novel's title refers to a remark frequently made by Kate's smug stay-at-home contemporaries, usually right after they've asked when she's switching to part-time. But how long, in fact, will Kate be able to do it -- the sleepless nights, the piggish colleagues, the censorious in-laws, the text message from the nanny, received mid-meeting, informing her that she may have lice? Pearson provides a suspenseful and entertaining answer to this question, but along the way she asks some equally tricky ones about the way we live now.
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 Cahners Business Information.
Cross Bridget Jones' Diary and The Nanny Diaries, and you get this first novel. Londoner Kate has it all-an incredible job in the financial sector, a loving and supportive husband, two beautiful children, and a wonderful nanny. But having it all doesn't mean that she has time to enjoy it all, and, in fact, she doesn't. Plagued by guilt, she keeps a "must remember" list longer than her arm, shows up for important meetings with baby spit-up on her Armani jacket, and defaces supermarket bakery items so that they will look homemade at her daughter's bake sale. With its chronicle format, lists, and emails, this work is similar to the droves of snappy contemporary novels pouring out of the United Kingdom-but it's more substantial. Pearson has a lot to say about the expectations, internal as well as external, placed on today's working moms. Funny yet heartbreakingly sad, it's a thoughtful read that could lead working mothers to consider life changes. For most fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/02.]-Beth Gibbs, Davidson, NC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
An above-average addition to the crowded genre of working-mother-angst novels, a first from British journalist Pearson, the mate of New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane. Written largely as diary entries by London career woman and mother Kate Reddy, the tale begins at 1:37 one morning as Kate, disdainful of stay-at-home moms but intimidated by their homemaking skills, alters store-bought pies to pass off as homemade at her daughter's school the next day. Kate, whose high-powered job as a funds manager requires long hours and lots of travel abroad, rarely sleeps, but for all her manic activity she spends little time with the children she claims to adore. Readers may feel less than sympathetic with her complaints about husband Richard, a mild-mannered architect actively involved with the children, or about her nanny who doesn't always follow Kate's strict rules, mostly set in absentia, concerning the kids' nutrition. Kate's major crises are about finding cabs to the airport and keeping up with the men in her firm. Though she's filled with guilt and self-pity about lack of involvement with her children, she seems to spend most of her free time writing cutesy e-mails to her friends, who are also career women, and splurging on shoes. Then her life begins to spin out of control. She almost has an affair with a client; her boss's wife, a truly good woman, dies of cancer; Richard gets fed up and moves out; she smokes dope with her cab driver, who turns out to be a philosophy student. She finds her priorities shifting. The clever cattiness of the early chapters gives way to an earnest, endearing introspection that makes it possible for Kate to strike a more satisfying, if almosttoo-perfect-to-believe, balance between family and work. From the upper echelons of working mothers, a fictional answer to The Nanny Diaries-and likely to be as popular.
“Fast . . . funny . . . heartbreaking. . . . You root for Kate the whole length of her roller coaster ride.” —The New York Times Book Review
“The national anthem for working mothers.” —Oprah Winfrey
“A comic wonder: wildly hilarious, achingly sad, perfectly observed.” —The Miami Herald
“The book every working woman is likely to devour. . . . A hysterical look—in both the laughing and crying senses of the word—at the life of Supermom.” —The New York Times
“Think of Kate Reddy as Bridget Jones’ older, harried, married working-mother-of-two sister. . . . Hilarious.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Perfectly captures the driven days and frequently sleep-deprived nights of that modern mammal, the working mother . . . with acute humor, piercing insight and more than a touch of tenderness.” —New York Daily News
“The definitive social comedy of working motherhood.” —The Washington Post