• This book is Gin & Tonic for the soul

This book is Gin & Tonic for the soul

She’s 49 and she’s back! Allison Pearson’s new book How Hard Can it Be? brings character Kate Reddy to life again, and this time she’s got testosterone. Remember the book and film, I Don’t Know How She Does it? 

This is the sequel. If you’re peri-menopausal and memory-challenged like the protagonist Kate, think of the iconic scene played by Sarah Jessica Parker scratching her nit infestation during a posh New York financial deal-making situation in the film.

In How Hard Can it Be? Kate Reddy’s kids are teenagers, her memory’s shocking and her mother and in laws are creaking and everyone’s putting more and more demands on her.

Sounds familiar? If you’re a parent over 40, this book contains a gem in every sentence. It’s a bit like sitting at a bar with a friend, possibly Little Britain’s Vicky Pollard if she married posh and moved to the suburbs, and hearing about the life of middle-aged women dealing with the needs of working, kids living on the

The sandwich generation gets something tasty to bite into

hostile planet Instagram, older parents, uninterested husbands, stubborn muffin tops and hormones in revolt.

Laugh-out-loud funny, Pearson’s observations sting at the utility as well as the futility of modern life. Reddy finds herself having her stomach sucked out to get into a dress for a school reunion and describes the scene:

“The two women seated behind the clinic’s Reception desk are like air hostesses from a previous era, when flying made you feel like a glamorous globetrotter rather than a galley-slave with an overpriced tub of Pringles and no room to breathe.”

At times the writing takes off and you wonder if Pearson isn’t a literary writer playing at what snobs will call Chic Lit and women in the ‘Sandwich’ generation will call Written Gin. For example, Reddy is letting her dog Lenny out for a wee in the garden and this sentence pops up: “… all that my eyes can make out is the distant silhouette of three Scots pines and a single glimmering silver birch that looks like a fork of lightning against the pewter sky.” Wow.

Banking on it
Perhaps that’s why there’s a bit of poetic licence when it comes to Kate Reddy being able to say she’s 42 years old when she’s 49 at an investment house. That would be impossible. In the post 2008-crash world, financial institutions are wearing crash helmets. No-one gets in those places without the company doing a freckle audit and scrutinising your academic certificates to the point of noting the grain of the paper they’re printed on. You couldn’t lie about your age or anything.

However, so many truths stand out amid the book’s comic scenarios. Yes, women do fail to apply for jobs they’re less qualified for (unlike men) but that’s because we’re so much more scrutinised. Yes, we know less of selfies and self harming than our kids, these are new territories to many parents. Yes, we fear being 50, although I’d say it’s even harder for men in the workplace as pernicious phrases like Male, Pale & Stale make ageism casual.

The question now is who will play Kate Reddy in the film? SJP or one of us?????






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