From the upper echelons of working mothers, a fictional answer to The Nanny Diaries—and likely to be as popular.

I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT

THE LIFE OF KATE REDDY, WORKING MOTHER

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.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-375-41405-3

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2002

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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