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Home » Books » Fiction & Literature » Humorous

I Don't Know How She Does It

A Comedy about Failure, a Tragedy about Success

By Allison Pearson

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Format: Paperback, 400 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 December 2006
Meet Kate Reddy, fund manager and mother of two. She can juggle nine different currencies in five different time zones and get herself and two children washed and dressed and out of the house in half an hour. A victim of time famine, Kate counts seconds like other women count calories. As she hurtles between appointments, through her head spools the crazy tape-loop of the working mother's life: must remember client reports, bouncy castles, transatlantic phone call, nativity play, check Dow Jones, cancel hygienist, squeeze sagging pelvic floor, make time for sex. Factor in a manipulative nanny, an Australian boss who looks at Kate's breasts as if they're on special offer, a long suffering husband, her quietly aghast in-laws, two needy children and an e-mail lover, and you have a woman juggling so many balls that some day soon something's going to hit the ground. In an uproariously funny and achingly sad novel, Allison Pearson captures the guilty secret lives of working mothers, the self-recriminations, comic deceptions, forgeries, giddy exhaustion and despair as no other writer has ever done. With fierce irony and a sparkling style, she brilliantly dramatises the dilemma of working motherhood at the start of the 21st century.

Promotional Information

S 2003 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize

About the Author

Allison Pearson is an award-winning journalist who has weekly columns in the Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard. A founder member of BBC 2's 'Late Review', she broadcasts regularly on TV and radio. She lives in London with the New Yorker writer Anthony Lane and their two small children.

Reviews

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. Agent, Pat Kavanaugh. (Oct.) Forecast: Knopf is pulling out the stops for this, with a 100,000 first printing and a seven-city author tour; movie rights have already been sold, and word of mouth from early readers-plus ecstatic London reviews-will help stoke interest here in buyers of both sexes; it's a likely bestseller. 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.

"I love Kate Reddy...her tale made me cry twice and laugh often" * Independent on Sunday * "If you could buy stock in a book, I would stake all my savings on the success of I Don't Know How She Does It. Here at last is the definitive social comedy of working motherhood" * Washington Post * "Refreshingly engaging" * Vogue * "Funny, fast and full of nail-on-the-head observations" * Daily Telegraph * "A book that made me howl with laughter" * The Times * "Searing comedy" * New Statesman * "Painfully funny" * Heat * "Pearson...never hides her intelligence or apologises for her seriousness of purpose" * The Times * "A funny, heartbreaking mirror of the daily lives of mothers" * Telegraph Magazine * "Pearson writes with gratifying elegance and endearing self-mockery" * New York Times *

EAN: 9780099428381
ISBN: 0099428385
Publisher: Vintage Books
Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.5 centimetres (0.30 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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2 review(s)
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Andrea on
 
This is great for working mum's trying to get any kind of sense out of anything. Does it provide any answers? No, but it surely provides food for thought and will make you feel that you are not alone in struggling to get the 'balance' right. It's funny, sad and just a great read.
Customer on
 
I loved this book. As a working mother it spoke to me. I could empathise with the character and felt what she was feeling. There were bits that I laughed out loud in and bits that caused me to reflect about my own life. I would recommend to all as a really good read.

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