Reviews for I Don't Know How She Does It : The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 September 2002
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. When we first meet Kate, jet-lagged from trips to three cities in four days, she is "distressing" mince pies for her daughter's school concert so they can pass as homemade under the scrutiny of the cadre of judgmental stay-at-home mothers she dubs "The Muffia." Pearson, an award-winning journalist, columnist for The Evening Standard, and mother, knows whereof she writes. Kate's voice rings with authenticity and dark humor, whether she is providing ironic commentary on the e-mails in her overflowing inbox or performing her daily "kit inspection" at the door of her office ("Shoes, matching, two of? Check. No breakfast cereal on jacket? Check"). Comparisons with other entries in the burgeoning "inside the mind of a thirtysomething woman" genre are inevitable, but this is no Kate Reddy's Diary. Pearson has crafted a compelling manifesto on the plight of working mothers that manages to be both angry and funny. Success in Britain, Miramax film rights, and wide publicity will spark demand for this wonderful novel. ((Reviewed September 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2002 September #1
An above-average addition to the crowded genre of working-mother-angst novels, a first from British journalist Pearson, the mate of New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane.Written largely as diary entries by London career woman and mother Kate Reddy, the tale begins at 1:37 one morning as Kate, disdainful of stay-at-home moms but intimidated by their homemaking skills, alters store-bought pies to pass off as homemade at her daughter's school the next day. Kate, whose high-powered job as a funds manager requires long hours and lots of travel abroad, rarely sleeps, but for all her manic activity she spends little time with the children she claims to adore. Readers may feel less than sympathetic with her complaints about husband Richard, a mild-mannered architect actively involved with the children, or about her nanny who doesn't always follow Kate's strict rules, mostly set in absentia, concerning the kids' nutrition. Kate's major crises are about finding cabs to the airport and keeping up with the men in her firm. Though she's filled with guilt and self-pity about lack of involvement with her children, she seems to spend most of her free time writing cutesy e-mails to her friends, who are also career women, and splurging on shoes. Then her life begins to spin out of control. She almost has an affair with a client; her boss's wife, a truly good woman, dies of cancer; Richard gets fed up and moves out; she smokes dope with her cab driver, who turns out to be a philosophy student. She finds her priorities shifting. 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.First printing of 100,000; author tour Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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Library Journal Reviews 2002 June #1
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. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Library Journal Reviews 2002 November #1
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.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 September #1
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.

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