Narrator: Julia Whelan
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on August 25th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Literary, Contemporary Women, Family Life
Length: 11 hrs. 40 mins.
Fans of I Don't Know How She Does It and Where'd You Go, Bernadette will cheer at this "fresh, funny take on the age-old struggle to have it all" (People) and 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 startup that 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. Listeners 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?
A Window Opens is Elisabeth Egan’s debut novel. Egan is the books editor at Glamour magazine and she draws on her personal work experience for this book. It’s about a magazine editor who experiences culture shock when she starts working for retail giant Scroll. I’ve had my eye on this book because I like workplace stories like this one, such as The Knockoff or Devil Wears Prada. You know that NYT workplace expose on Amazon? This book is about a book editor who lands a dream job for a company that sounds very much like that one.
A Window Opens is about a part-time book editor at a women’s magazine who takes on a full-time job at an Amazon-like company (they want to be the “Starbucks of bookstores”) when her husband abruptly leaves his job. Alice Pearse was happy writing book reviews part-time and having the time to be involved with her kids’ school activities. But this new job is exciting to her and will definitely help out her family during a tough time. This book is very relatable and brings up issues of juggling work and family responsibility, keeping up with new technology and a demanding work culture, and trying to stay true to your values.
Alice tries to roll with the punches at Scroll and keep up with the changing priorities and tight deadlines. Her boss is friendly with her but sends her mixed messages, and the job is not exactly what she was expecting. At home, things are falling apart- her husband is starting his own business and is drinking is getting out of hand. Plus, Alice’s father is very ill and that weighs on her mind. The nanny is taking on a lot of the household responsibility while Alice is on call around the clock.
Since Alice is a book person I really enjoyed seeing all the book references sprinkled throughout A Window Opens. It was funny how the ebook champion Scroll called print books carbon-based books and had a “paper is poison initiative.” Plus, Alice has a friend who is an independent bookstore owner who is not thrilled that Alice is now working for the enemy.
I listened to the A Window Opens audiobook because I knew narrator Julia Whelan would knock it out of the park. Whelan has a pleasant voice that suited the main character. Whelan’s connection to the story comes through and you can feel the character’s changing moods. I sped up the narration a bit to suit my taste and couldn’t stop listening until I found out the conclusion to Alice’s story. If you are an audiobook fan, skip the carbon- based book and listen to this one.
This was an entertaining listen and it gave me food for thought about doing what you love and creating your own dream job. This was a smart, funny, thoughtful story.