Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother / by Allison Pearson

Kate Reddy has to work very hard to keep her life how she wants it. A hedge-fund manager for one of London's leading brokerage firms, she's also a wife to a loving husband, also a corporate executive, and mother to two small beautiful but sometimes bratty children. That her mind is forever toggling between accounts, deadlines, foreign clients and bake sale cookies, show-and-tell projects and doctor's check-ups is a given. But she's someone who can do it. She's not like her friends (quitters) who've forsaken the rat race for homemaking and are no longer the 'friends' they used to be. And while she misses out on a few details here or there and might have bypass small engagements or miss a recital in the course of a work week, Kate feels she devotes the attention she needs to each facet of her world. Of course there are times when she truly hates her life, her husband and her kids (who are in the care part-time nanny much of the day, but still) for their very existence. Yet overall she needs the stress and, in a strange way, she likes the challenge and will readily admit to not imagining doing anything else.

So this book has kind of the same exact story as countless others already weighing down the shelves--modern working woman dramatizes her issues. But Pearson, author of I Think I Love You about pop culture-addict teenagers in the seventies, entertains her audience with some fairly humorous anecdotes and add-ons ("Any working mother who says she doesn't bribe her kids can add Liar to her résumé."; or, when speaking of her daughter's reaction to her out-of-town business trips, "Mummy's return is always a cue for an intricate sequence of snubs and punishments."). At least for a little while. Unfortunately Kate's narrative is only amusing for so long as the reader gets to know her character--a headstrong but vulnerable, resourceful yet forgetful, devoted though libertine twenty-first century woman--because the story doesn't really offer any kind of change-up. Things bog down a little in the second half by which time Kate's little introspections seem more like whining than gibing and her oh-so-busy-and-hectic life ceases to impress anyone. (FIC PEARSON)

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