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I Don't Know How She Does it (Movie Tie-in Edition) [Paperback]

Allison Pearson
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 9 2011 Vintage Contemporaries
Now a Major Motion Picture

Delightfully smart and heartbreakingly poignant, Allison Pearson’s smash debut novel has exploded onto bestseller lists as “The national anthem for working mothers.” Hedge-fund manager, wife, and mother of two, Kate Reddy manages to juggle nine currencies in five time zones and keep in step with the Teletubbies. But when she finds herself awake at 1:37 a.m. in a panic over the need to produce a homemade pie for her daughter’s school, she has to admit her life has become unrecognizable. With panache, wisdom, and uproarious wit, I Don’t Know How She Does It brilliantly dramatizes the dilemma of every working mom.

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From Amazon

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 small 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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is a very well written book that as a borderline middle age women I can wholly relate to every experience the main character go through, for every working mother or step mother this is life. Allison Pearson brings to life the everyday mundane and not so mundane rat race of child care, overworking hour's guilt, extended family issues, financial worries, discrimination and sexual frustration that every working mom deals with day in and day out.

Allison Pearson has covered all bases here, Kate, like so many career oriented women are spread so thin across the board that I defy any woman to read this and not relate to at least five issues Kate deals with. It brought some humor to my life and made me realize what is really important. I personally laughed more than a dozen times as Kate pounds her way through life's daily problems. She tries to find an solution for every problem, although sometimes the answers are unorthodox, there is always a tiny bit of silver lining peeking out of the cloud to be grabbed.

As Kate tries to find the delicate balance of a career in high finance, motherhood, friend and wife. She shows not only to herself what is really important to her but what really is important in life. Kate discovers through all her mishaps that staying on top off all the so called priority lists are not such a high priority after all. Keeping up with the neighbors and having an air of complete organization is harder in life than on paper, as she makes lists of things to be done and never really crossing anything off the list in the end she concludes that she really just needs to reassess her lifestyle that she tried to live and live the lifestyle that she can live.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I was a professional working mom for 2 years before quiting my career of 10 years to stay home. The main character, Kate, is a high-powered, high paid, mom of 2, with WAY too much on her plate. Although I sympathize completely with the character, her plight seems incredibly unbelievable to me. She tries to remember to do things at the end of each day (new carpet, birthday party plans, new shoes for kids - all can be taken care of on-line or phone) -- but then she seems to do an awful lot of sitting around at the office and on airplanes, when she could be taking care of some of her to-do list. Additionally, she is obsessed with preparing gourmet meals, throwing dinner parties, buying only the best of everything, and being the best investment banker in the world! She's making her own life miserable.
I do like the fact that Kate is a very complicated character, with a miserable father and jealous sister, plus she's worked hard to get to where she is -- just like all of us. Her plight exemplifies the complex balance of all women... its not just a matter of stay home or quit. Its much harder when your job defines you.
I was a bit shocked Kate decides to stay home at the end. I'll bet she's pretty stir-crazy within a few months. When you get off a treadmill, its hard to get your bearnings!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Heartbreaking May 1 2004
As a working mom, I had to pick up this book. It wasn't a waste of time. It was entertaining, both funny and sad. But the end left me very troubled. (Caution: as in some other reviews, this contains a spoiler.)
No, I couldn't completely relate to Kate's life. We aren't that rich, and my job isn't nearly as demanding (thank goodness!). But there was a lot there that I could understand -- knowing that your husband would not even think to read a note from school, weighing what to say to your childcare help because that person is very valuable and you don't want to cause trouble, dealing with household horrors like rotting fruit and rodents because you just can't stay on top of the housework and nobody else is doing it for you, making lists that carry over the same items day after day because there aren't enough hours to accomplish everything. (Actually, I'd guess that most of these things are problems for at-home moms, too.)
Yes, Kate could be frustrating, but who really has it all together? Kate was a workaholic and needed to be more honest and assertive -- at her office, with her household help, with her husband. She needed to take control of her life, which was obviously falling apart -- she drank too much, spent too much, flirted too much. Those of us who lack Kate's material comforts may feel that she was a whiner, but in the end, let the person with their act completely together cast the first stone. I found Kate's messy life refreshingly real.
What troubled me though, and why I gave the book three stars, was the end. Kate's only way out was to quit her job (though she seemed to be on the way to creating a new one in the epilogue).
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By A Customer
This book is truly one of the funniest tales of a working mom yet...albeit to the "n-th degree", Kate Reddy sums up the ambition, guilt, passivity, aggression, levelheadedness, and disorganization that we all experience while trying to "have it all". As a working mom-of-one myself with a second child on the way, I found this book to be a satirical look of what it might be like if everything in a working mom's life goes either extraordinarily well or extraordinarily badly!
If you keep in mind that this book is intended to amplify the successes as well as the failures that working moms face both personally and professionally, you'll likely see a little of yourself in every situation she goes through...from finding the time to actually cross items off of her ever-present "Must Remember" list, to confronting the nannny and chickening out, to overlooking an incompetent cleaning lady instead of expending the energy to find another one *right now*, to dealing with sexist comments in a male-dominated industry...you will come away with a finer understanding of all that you do that goes largely unappreciated.
Taking that into acocunt, working moms will find this book and it's cynical tongue-in-cheek commentary a welcome change to the moms-that-have-it-all-and-do-it-well "fiction" available in the self-help section!
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A Turning the Pages Review
You may also read my review here: [...]....

Being a working mom, I immediately thought that this book would appeal to me... Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2012 by Turning the Pages
3.0 out of 5 stars 3 stars- I don't know how she does it
I found this book to be humorous in some parts but it wasn't enough to really engage me in the story. Read more
Published on Sept. 13 2011 by sc77
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
My short list of recommendations of new literature is rather predictable: "My Fractured Life" (RENT-generation book of hope, glory and despair as a modern version of... Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2005 by Angie Clusterman
3.0 out of 5 stars I Just Didn't Like Her
Yes, the book is humorous. Yes, the writing is, for the most part, intelligent. But Kate Reddy is just plain impossible to love (or even like). Read more
Published on July 18 2004 by mom2threereaders
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read
I expected this to be a comical romp, instead I found a wonderful novel that made my heart ache with compassion and understanding. Read more
Published on July 11 2004 by Jill
5.0 out of 5 stars The question burning on every young woman's mind...
Until I read this book, I never questioned that I wouldn't be able to juggle a family with a career. Read more
Published on July 4 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Laughed Out Loud
This book made me laugh out loud and cry real tears because I actually saw myself now and ten years from now. Read more
Published on June 28 2004 by nicole young
5.0 out of 5 stars Plenty beneath the surface here
Superficially, this book is a testament to the heroic efforts of working mothers, struggling to maintain a career in a patriarchal society, while simultaneously living up to the... Read more
Published on June 27 2004 by Ken
5.0 out of 5 stars I can't wait to see what Kate does next!
This book is a guaranteed laugh for any mother out there -- whether she is a stay-at-home mom or a work-outside-the-home mom who then works-at-home when she gets back home! Read more
Published on June 23 2004 by "epmom3"
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, sad at times, with a flawed heroine
I was expecting Bridget Jones with kids, but this book turned out to be much more than that. It's the first novel I've read that deals honestly with the impossibility of being... Read more
Published on June 21 2004
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