Four New York women juggle family and career, generally preferring the latter to the former.
“Did you see that article in the paper the other day? A scientist in Australia found a way to fertilize eggs without sperm.…It’s the end of men,” reports Maggie, one of four gal pals at the center of Rinaldi’s uninspired debut. Maggie, Beth, and Anna work for a company called Red Hot Mama, a manufacturer of controversial sexy lingerie for pregnant and nursing women, the ongoing target of angry demonstrations and threatening mail. Anna’s sister, Isabel, is an associate publisher at a magazine called Pink. Barely pregnant, she learns that her boss thinks “we should hire women who are either too old to get pregnant or too ugly to get knocked up—haha!” When she calls Anna to report this, Anna tells her not to worry. “The feeling that the world will no longer value you because you are going to be a mother will disappear once you realize that you’ll get better at your job because the bullshit will become meaningless and will roll off your back.” If you have a low tolerance for clunky, didactic dialogue, this is not the book for you; dated-feeling feminist ideas take precedence over both character development and plot. Isabel’s husband is out of town a lot so she cheats on him with an ex throughout her entire pregnancy. Anna is really angry because her husband doesn’t help enough with the kids and she’s pregnant again. Beth is raising a kid on her own as the HIV-positive father approaches his demise. Then there’s Maggie, who, like the protagonist of the movie Maggie’s Plan, has gotten sick of the man she stole from his first wife and is now plotting to give him back. According to the author’s note, she had given up on this novel when she narrated part of its plotline to director Rebecca Miller, who made it into a movie. This is now considered a selling point of the book, printed on the cover and discussed in a foreword, though it’s not clear why.
Creates more sympathy for its male characters than its female ones.