A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

August 31, 2015 Contemporary Fiction, Family 14

Happy Monday, Bookworms!

For those of you back in the office today, I’m pleased to bring you a book about someone who is probably having a crappier day at the office than you are! A few weeks ago I was itching for something new to read when I saw A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan on NetGalley. The cover art was pretty and it was marketed toward fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette (review) so I decided to give it a whirl. *I received a complimentary copy of this novel for review consideration.*

awindowopensAlice Pearse is a happily married mother of three living in New Jersey. She works part time for a magazine as the books editor and keeps her household running with the help of a crackerjack babysitter. Alice’s life is chugging along at a smooth clip until a major upheaval in her lawyer husband’s career path sends her back into the workforce full-time. She thinks she’s landed the job of her dreams when she is hired by fancy pants startup Scroll, an e-book retailer promising swanky cafe style reading space as well as first edition novels. Of course, things are rarely as miraculous as they seem, especially when it comes to jobs. At the same time her new career is taking flight, Alice’s dad gets sick, her marriage hits some speed bumps, and her world devolves into general chaos. When it seems like “having it all” isn’t working out the way she planned, Alice is forced to take stock and decide what it is she really wants. 

As someone who works full time but does not (yet, hopefully) have children, sometimes this type of novel falls a little flat for me. I suppose I just get frustrated many women’s reality; the fact that a work-life balance seems nearly impossible to achieve. The majority of novels I’ve read in this vein definitely tend toward favoring women scaling back their careers and focusing on their families. While I think focusing on one’s family is awesome, it bugs me that women are always the ones who are expected to scale back, a sentiment I find perpetuated in this type of novel. That’s part of why I found A Window Opens refreshing. It was very honest in its exploration of Alice’s situation and doesn’t present a super clear cut answer. It doesn’t end exactly the way I’d have liked, but at least it doesn’t preach the value of a particular lifestyle. Alice focuses on what Alice wants and what will make Alice happiest. I can get behind a story like that.

What do you think, Bookworms? When you’re reading books about working moms, do you feel that a certain solution is presented as ideal? Do you ever wonder why there are so few books about men’s work-life balance? (Look at me getting all feminist up in here today. Whew.)

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

14 Responses to “A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan”

  1. Sarah's Book Shelves

    I’ve heard some good things about this one and hope to give it a try if I can find the time. And, you’re right, there are no books about men’s work/life balance!! Where are they?!

    • Words For Worms

      Right? Like, why is it just culturally acceptable for a dude to put in 80 hours a week but a woman is criticized for her parenting priorities for putting in 40?

  2. Amy @ Read a Latte

    This sounds right up my alley! I just finished Big Little Lies and I think if you liked this, you might love that. It’s so funny and has the same ideas of women and working and totally takes the “Good for you, not for me” Amy Poehler vibes.

  3. Joules (from Pocketful of Joules)

    Reading about how a woman does the work/life balance usually just frustrates me because it always appears that the “problem” is that the woman’s husband is focusing on his own career or that the woman seems to want “too much” which is total BS. I’m living the work/life balance every day and you certainly have good days and bad days, but life and children change so quickly that it’s ever evolving. {steps off soapbox}

  4. Megan M.

    Down with the patriarchy! You tell ’em Katie! When reporters are asking Hillary Clinton how she will balance “being a grandmother” with possibly “running the country” then you know it’s gone too far. Even successfully raising your own children is not enough, you must be at the beck and call of your grandchildren too, or you have failed as a woman. GRRRRRRRR!!! Sometimes I worry I might have a rage stroke.

  5. Michelle

    The whole work-life balance thing doesn’t bother me as much as it probably should. Then again, I’ve been doing it a LONG time. My husband and I both have positions in upper management in our various fields, plus we have two very, very active kids. The house may not be as clean as I would like. We may not eat a family dinner very often anymore. However, you can still manage to attend all of your kids’ activities and meet all your deadlines at work. It is not easy, but it is possible. It is even possible when my husband is away on one of his many business trips. So, I never give those types of novels much thought beyond whether I enjoyed them or not because I know they are not necessarily based in reality. They are often written by people who have made their own compromises rather than to continue to fight the fight.

    • Words For Worms

      You’re probably right, everything involves compromise. I’m not familiar with the author’s back story other than knowing she was once Glamour’s book editor. I wonder if she perhaps jumped into a demanding tech sector job at some point that didn’t work out.

  6. Jennine G.

    Good point, books do usually end up erring on the side of family than career. I’ve always seen it as a back and forth thing. Sometimes my job will need more attention and sometimes my family, it doesn’t stay the same for any amount of time really. And as your family grows up, it changes still. So I don’t know…I’m more of a suck it up and just do what you have to type of person.

    • Words For Worms

      I suppose that a realistic balancing act wouldn’t make for very compelling prose, would it? I mean, there’s not a whole lot of dramatic tension in sucking it up LOL.

  7. Jenny @ Reading the End

    YEP it’s always about women making changes to their work life so they can be with their families. And the deck gets stacked against them because the books will often start when they already have kids so if they are currently spending lots of time at work, they come off as irresponsible and uncaring mothers. BAH.

    Laura Lippman, who is a mystery novelist and is married to TV person David Simon, is allllways on Twitter complaining about the work/life balance questions she gets asked in every interview, which he never ever EVER gets asked, even though they are both, you know, in the exact same marriage and family.

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