A 50-something career woman considers her next move when things don’t go as planned in this novel about higher education politics.
Georgia Davis is the associate vice president of the public relations office at Georgia Central University, a large Southern state institution. Georgia has focused all of her efforts on her job, at the expense of her personal life. So when she is passed over for the promotion she has worked and studied for, she is furious. Instead, Paul Van Horne, the new university president and an Ivy Leaguer from the Northern U.S., chooses one of his old buddies from Princeton, Carl Overstreet. Carl had been in charge of public relations at a small college in New York but doesn’t have Georgia’s experience at a big state school or a higher degree. (Georgia is finishing her Ph.D. in public relations.) To her dismay, Carl is an alcoholic who speaks brusquely to the public relations staff, making enemies. In addition, he is extremely preoccupied with the fact that he is still in love with Paul’s wife, Elena. Then there’s Georgia’s friend Marina Roberson, a development officer, who has been inappropriately propositioned by an important donor. Her supervisor pressures her to continue meeting with him despite her discomfort. Meanwhile, Georgia must decide how she wants to handle Paul’s slight, considering whether to get to know Carl better and support him or try to find a new position. The discussions of sexual politics in the workplace are timely, and it’s always refreshing to read a book with an older female protagonist. While there is an almost overwhelming number of characters, the tale skillfully dramatizes the messiness of university politics. Some things that happen aren’t strictly realistic, such as some shenanigans with emails, but it’s not out of place within the gossipy territory of the story. The resolutions are satisfying despite, or even because of, some ludicrous plot turns. Pritchett’s (Making Lemonade, 2016) writing is clear and sometimes quite a bit detailed—she can give a lot of information on a subject that the characters are addressing. The tie-in to her previous work (Georgia meets that novel’s star, Missouri Rothman) is a bonus.
An enjoyable university tale for readers who appreciate an older heroine, drama, and romance.