I Don’t Know How She Does It: 8/9/07

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

After an energetic discussion about Pearson’s novel, most of us agreed with B’s suggestion that a more accurate title title would be “She Can’t Do It.”  JS and HF did attest to the large doses of truth in the book.  However, none of us thinks that a person can reasonably expect to succeed at being at the top of a high-stakes cut-throat business AND be a hands-on parent AND a loving and attentive spouse.

We did talk about whether feminism implies that women should be able to do all of these things at once. This writer firmly believes that whatever feminism may be, men have never been able to do all of these things simultaneously and successfully, and the principle of equality dictates that women can’t either. Having limited time, energy and talent (being human) means making choices about how to spend them.

For this night’s discussion, we were lucky to have 3 men and 5 women, including 3 retired working mothers, 1 working mother, 1 stay-at-home father, and 3 single people with no children.

CD enjoyed the characters and the humor; MG was frustrated by the stressful situations, but enjoyed the black humor; JS called this “a book of truth — I lived it.”

B called it a tragic story; HF found it funny and true, with Kate Reddy’s childhood experiences explaining a great deal about her drive; L was struck by Kate Reddy’s greedy whining and lamented the too-tidy conventional ending.

GC did not enjoy the humor; DS knows the life of a working mother first hand, and her response was to say to Kate: “get over yourself.”

We talked about the difference between choosing to be a working mother and having to be a working mother just to survive. What are our expectations about the level of comfort and convenience we must have?

CD saw many stereotypes in the book, particularly the male characters, who were all dependent on women to function properly.

An excellent book for discussion, whether or not you admire the story.

Allison Pearson – An Interview with the author at BookBrowse.com Allison Pearson
Daily Mail Pearson’s Daily Mail columns
“Behind the Book” at Anchor Books
Pearson tells the story of how she came to write the book.
Book cover - UK version  
Related titles… The Nanny Diaries

Bridget Jones’s Diary
The Bitch in the House: 26 women tell the truth about sex, solitude, work, motherhood, and marriagePerfect Madness: Motherhood in the age of anxiety

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