I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother
I Don't Know How She Does It The Life of Kate Reddy Working Mother Author:Allison Pearson 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 sm... more »all 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« less
A real fun british chick lit story (narrator has a british accent and does a great job of reading the story with lots of wit and emotion!) I wasnt sure if i would be able to relate to the main character since i am not a mother but i actually liked her alot and saw alot of myself in her as a woman. A fun story with lots of humor and emotion i would reccomend this to anyone as it was very entertaining!!
Allison Pearson's _I Don't Know How She Does It_ may (literally!) nearly scream from the cover that it's "chick lit" - against a slightly salmon pink background, a silhouette of a slender woman, her even her shadow outline clearly dressed in the ski-high pumps and suit-of-armor designer suit of the successful businesswoman of today, juggling silhouettes of a child's beloved toy, a pacifier, and of course, and overloaded briefcase - or maybe she's not juggling. Maybe she's finally, once and for all, tossing all of this up in the air for good. For all it's "chick lit" trappings, this novel, supported throughout by Pearson's finely wrought writing style suited to both wry comedy and genuinely affecting pathos (often within the same character's breath), explores issues that can't *just* be passed off as "chick lit" - it's a true gift to be able to deal with the real, serious, frequently life-changing ways in which gender affects all aspects of a certain class of educated, talented, career-tracked women.
Pearson manages to address the role of a woman in perhaps the least female-friendly career field possible, international stock and bond fund management (casual but somtimes brutal vulgarity and sexual harassment women fund analysts must bear with a tolerant smile; "the Mommy Track" that sends women seeking more time with their children down a dead-end of career advancement; and, perhaps worst of all for Kate, the endless last-minute business trips to clients from New York to Tokyo that she's expected to jet off on hours' notice, routinely missing key events in her two small children's lives. Although Kate's guilt is leavened by the gallows sense of humor that sustains her and her small cadre of working female friends, she is constantly gnawed at by the fear that 5-year-old Emily and 12-month Ben know and love the nanny better than their own mother, and that the stress and irritability that are a constant in Kate's life are taking their toll on her relationship with husband Richard.
For so many women, especially those who careers keep them in urban areas where the cost of living, not to mention a decent education, for one's children is gougingly high, _I Don't Know How She Does It_ may ring painfully true. Trying to keep her successful career to avoid the trauma that will surely come with abandoning her incredibly gift for economics and finance, Kate is nonetheless continually browbeaten and made to second-guess herself by the neverending and always conflicting demands of family life in a posh, closed London community that expects all mothers to stay home and bake from scratch for every school function. The open scening, in which Kate, freshly flown in from yet another international business foray at 2 in the morning, takes a vicious rolling pin to the crusts of store-bought mince pies in order to "distress" them adequately to pass as homemade and let her off as a "good mother" at her doctor's school is uproarious, but it also captures with jewel-like clarity the intense conflict, guilt, and shame Kate faces in a society that so recently encouraged women that they could "have it all." Kate is an enormously sympathetic character, and women on both sides of the work-home divide - and everywhere in between!!! - will understand her frustration, pain, and, above all, her ferocious and sustaining sense of humor.
Eden D. reviewed I Don't Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother on
I just kept wanting her to quit her job and spend some times with her kids. I didn't understand why she had them if she had no interest in being around them. It was just really hard to have any empathy for this main character. I aso felt like gee, I have my own to-do lists, and everyday life stresses, why do I want to spend 400 pages reading about someone else's? I did like the author's writing and humor, but this subject matter was like watching paint peel.
Also it was really heavy with the British references. I understood some, but others went right over my head.
I quit reading this about half way through. There are some funny incidents, but mostly there is no plot. It is just another "poor working mom trying to do everything" type book that rambles from day to day in her life. There just wasn't enough story to pull me in and keep me interested.