I Don't Know How She Does It: Summary and book reviews of I Don't Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson, plus links to an excerpt from I Don't Know How She Does It and a biography of Allison Pearson.
I Don't Know How She Does It The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother
by Allison Pearson
Hardcover: Oct 2002,
Paperback: Aug 2003,
For every woman trying to strike that impossible balance between work and home--and pretending that she has--and for every woman who has wanted to hurl the acquaintance who coos admiringly, "Honestly, I just don't know how you do it," out a window, here's a novel to make you cringe with recognition and laugh out loud. With fierce, unsentimental irony, Allison Pearson's novel brilliantly dramatizes the dilemma of working motherhood at the start of the twenty-first century.
Meet Kate Reddy, hedge-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. In Kate's life, Everything Goes Perfectly as long as Everything Goes Perfectly. She lies to her own mother about how much time she spends with her kids; practices pelvic floor squeezes in the boardroom; applies tips from Toddler Taming to soothe her irascible boss; uses her cell phone in the office bathroom to procure a hamster for her daughter's birthday ("Any working mother who says she doesn't bribe her kids can add Liar to her résumé"); and cries into the laundry hamper when she misses her children's bedtime.
In a novel that is at once uproariously funny and achingly sad, Allison Pearson captures the guilty secret lives of working women--the self-recrimination, the comic deceptions, the giddy exhaustion, the despair--as no other writer has. Kate Reddy's conflict -- How are we meant to pass our days? How are we to reconcile the two passions, work and motherhood, that divide our lives? --gets at the private absurdities of working motherhood as only a novel could: with humor, drama, and bracing wisdom.
Time - Margaret Carlson
A sparkling novel about juggling marriage, kids, and job (and getting some sleep) . . . Nearly every female lucky enough to have both a child and a byline . . . has strip-mined Pearson's theme how to squeeze babies, marriage and a high-powered job into a day that cannot be stretched beyond 24 hours. But Pearson's Kate, a brisk, sardonic, loving world beater, has made it all fresh again.
New York Times Book Review - Kate Betts
[H]eartbreaking . . . Anyone who has pumped breast milk in the back of a taxi, or wept quietly into the laundry hamper after arriving home too late for a good-night kiss, will recognize herself in this sharply observed, sometimes painfully sad story about the sordid disparity between the ideal and the reality of 'having it all.'
Newsweek - Cathleen McGuigan
What makes [Kate's] tale such a hoot are the spot-on details that crowd her life and her brain–and will be familiar to any woman who's ever tried to dress a squirming toddler while calling the office to explain why she's late . . . Pearson has an effortlessly smart style . . . I don't know a man on the planet who would get this book–or a woman who wouldn't.
Vogue - Sarah Lyall
The fraught lives of modern women, especially those with children, is a classic theme of the age…But Pearson's book is refreshingly engaging because of the high quality of the prose and her uncanny ability to move from farce to pathos in the course of a single paragraph.
Washington Post - Marjorie Williams
If you could buy stock in a book, I would stake all my savings on the success of Allison Pearson's new novel, I Don't Know How She Does It. Here, at last, is the definitive social comedy of working motherhood.
An above-average addition to the crowded genre of working-mother-angst novels....The clever cattiness of the early chapters gives way to an earnest, endearing introspection that makes it possible for Kate to strike a more satisfying, if almost too-perfect-to-believe, balance between family and work. From the upper echelons of working mothers, a fictional answer to The Nanny Diaries--and likely to be as popular.
.... as a hilarious and sometimes poignant update on contemporary women in the workplace, it's the book to beat.
Named both Critic of the Year and Interviewer of the Year at the British Press Awards, Pearson is also the mother of two. So she should know how protagonist Kate Reddy balances her job as hedge fund manager with being a mom.
Booklist - Meredith Parets
This terrific novel is alternately hilarious and sad, and the driven, irreverent Kate Reddy is the perfect companion for this headlong voyage into the world of a high-powered hedge fund manager and mother of two.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Reni Woman's need to know Well, I'm 26 years old single woman and still have no idea about something a named marriage, but from Pearson's book make me understand how hard to be a motherhood n a worker for a woman...full of dilemma. Always Make me think " I don't know... Read More
Rated of 5
Not good at all..
Rated of 5
Unputdownable! What I liked at the end of the book was a comment about the author' husband appreciating HIS help: 'I don't know how HE does it!' Aren't we parents all doing a great job? Women, of course, most of all...
Rated of 5
Love the Book.
Rated of 5
At times I found I wasn't enjoying the book - because it touched WAY to close to home... What I found touching was the author's abilty not only to describe MY hectic life.. but also all the guilt that goes with it! I admit I skipped to the end when... Read More
Review (not rated)
Allison Pearson IS our goddess! This is a book about me and my friend, and a friend of hers, and every working mother there is... Thank you, Allison! Amazingly enjoyable language, and every single line in the book is so true! I have... Read More
Deftly skewers the manner in which America's over-privileged raise les petites over-privileged--as if grooming them for a Best in Show competition. Written by two former nannies, this alternately comic and poignant satire punctures the glamour of Manhattan's upper class.
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