An uninspired and underwritten debut novel about a young career woman seduced by the flashy workaholism of the 1980's. Australian journalist Laurie Michaels is covering the business beat in go-go Hong Kong in 1982 when she meets Steven Reid, division head for Orion Management Systems, which sells project management computer software to the construction companies that are remaking the Far East. London-born Nayman, whose bio matches that of her protagonist, is extremely frugal with detail, event, and emotion as she depicts Laurie and Steven moving in together, failing to connect (she calls him ``Peter Pan'' because he won't commit), and ultimately breaking up in a world of airports, hotels, and construction sites. Scenes are sketched as if dictated (``It was 7 a.m., 22nd of May''), and characterizations are thin porridge (``Olivia and I judged our lives and our worth in terms of our work, not through association with a man. We were journalists, our yearning for adventure urgent and fresh''). If this generic quality created a specific effect, as in the novels of Alain Robbe-Grillet, the book could be excused as a feeble attempt at modernism. But it's meant to be an office romance: How Laurie gives up journalism to do customer satisfaction surveys for Orion and Steven; how she's disappointed not to be allowed to move into sales, envies married women their well-appointed homes, and finally discovers that the workaholic life is shallow and unrewarding. A pale Pilgrim's Progress of office politics, with the heft and substance of an article in a financial magazine. Except for some early descriptions of Hong Kong, Nayman seems content to let the readers do the imaginative work—not very good strategy when most of your book takes place in airport lounges.
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