by Allison Pearson
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Oct 15th 2002
Kate Reddy and her husband Richard
live in London and have two young children.
But Kate works in finance, as a hedge-fund manager (whatever that is),
while he is an "ethical architect" (whatever that is). She earns considerably more money than him,
and also works much longer hours than him, often jetting off to New York at a
moments notice, and getting business phone calls at every hour of the day or
night. She feels enormous guilt at
missing her childrens important days, and she gets angry when Richard suggests
that she should live a slower life. He
does not seem to understand that the demands of her job leave no room for
relaxing or taking time off. Although Kate does what she can to meet her
familys needs, she is certain that, for her job at least, she has to choose
between her work and her husband and children.
As the novel progresses, it becomes clearer to her what sacrifices she
is making in the pursuit of her career.
The best feature of Allison
Pearsons novel is its depiction of the difficulties faced by working mothers
and the psychological pressures they face.
Kate Reddy is very aware of the fight for womens rights that enabled
women like her to compete for prestigious jobs, and she never questions the
feminist cause. But she balances it
with the personal side of life and the value of family. She does not write about a utopian future
where men and women share equally in childcare; her setting is the present,
where many men still find it difficult to give up traditional gender roles and
have little incentive to do so, and where women feel torn between their careers
and their personal lives.
Feminist readers may not be happy
with Kates solution to this widespread dilemma, but it does at least exemplify
the ideal that women should have the right to choose. Along the way, readers are kept entertained by Pearsons acerbic
comments about modern life, the jokes shared between Kate and her women friends
and the fast pace of the unfolding events.
Most of the people in the novel apart from Kate are not so well
characterizedit's not clear for example whether we should think in the end
that her husband Richard was right about her need to slow down, or whether he
should bear a good deal of the responsibility for the problems in their
marriage. The writing is competent and
straightforward, so even in its darker moments the book is a quick read. Emma
Fielding reads the abridged
audiobook very well, bringing the characters to life.
web page with RealAudio excerpt from audiobook
© 2002 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.
Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island.
He is editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main research is on
philosophical issues in psychiatry. He is especially interested in exploring
how philosophers can play a greater role in public life, and he is keen to help
foster communication between philosophers, mental health professionals, and the