From the books editor at Glamour magazine comes a heartfelt and painfully funny debut about what happens when a wife and mother of three leaps at the chance to fulfill her professional destiny—only to learn every opportunity comes at a price.
In A Window Opens, beloved books editor at Glamour magazine Elisabeth Egan brings us Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age. Like her fictional forebears Kate Reddy and Bridget Jones, Alice plays many roles (which she never refers to as “wearing many hats” and wishes you wouldn’t, either). She is a mostly-happily married mother of three, an attentive daughter, an ambivalent dog-owner, a part-time editor, a loyal neighbor and a Zen commuter. She is not: a cook, a craftswoman, a decorator, an active PTA member, a natural caretaker or the breadwinner. But when her husband makes a radical career change, Alice is ready to lean in—and she knows exactly how lucky she is to land a job at Scroll, a hip young start-up which promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to beloved classics. The Holy Grail of working mothers―an intellectually satisfying job and a happy personal life―seems suddenly within reach.
Despite the disapproval of her best friend, who owns the local bookstore, Alice is proud of her new “balancing act” (which is more like a three-ring circus) until her dad gets sick, her marriage flounders, her babysitter gets fed up, her kids start to grow up and her work takes an unexpected turn. Readers will cheer as Alice realizes the question is not whether it’s possible to have it all, but what does she―Alice Pearse―really want?
As someone who is not a wife or mom I wondered if I would be able to connect with Alice Pearse but to my surprise I did. I could relate to her love of books and her family and I thought she was a caring person. I liked her sense of humor too.
A Window Opens is not completely the lighthearted book I expected as it also has some sorrow and asks some harder questions about what is important in life and how to balance work and family. I also liked the comparisons to Amazon and how technology has changed our reading habits. Scroll is an interesting concept and also a sad one. Scroll is supposed to be an Amazon like box store and the parent company is like a combination of Amazon and Walmart so I could understand why Alice's best friend was worried about the fate of her bookstore. As the book went on I was reminded a little of The Devil Wear's Prada because of how demanding Alice's job was.
In addition to the challenges of a new job, Alice's husband is also struggling after losing his job and taking over primary care of their kids while Alice works. At times he annoyed me because he kind of landed himself in that situation and made things worse. Alice may have been working longer hours and been attached to her phone at home because of work demands but he is the reason she left the part time job she loved in the first place.
I loved Alice's father. He is an awesome dad and grandfather and it is clear that Alice gets her love of books from him. He can no longer speak due to throat cancer but he can definitely make his opinions heard. His text messages cracked me up and I really enjoyed the relationship between Alice and her dad.
A Window Opens is a book I really enjoyed and I could see it being made into a movie. I liked the insight into the book industry as well as the story of a modern family trying to get through some struggles. I also liked the humor that helped balance the darker moments. While the book's description references Bridget Jones, I think readers who like Liane Moriarty would like this book as it is reminiscent of her writing style. This is Elisabeth Egan's debut novel and I would definitely check out what she writes next.
I received an e-ARC for review purposes courtesy of the publisher and Edelweiss