A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan

  • a window opens (8:25)Title:  A Window Opens
  • Author:  Elisabeth Egan
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  August 2015 – Simon & Schuster
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  From the beloved 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, 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. Fans of I Don’t Know How She Does It, Where’d You Go Bernadette, and The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry 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?  (publisher)

My take: When Alice Pearce’s husband quits his job after learning he won’t make partner Alice starts searching for a full-time job that will help make ends meet until Nicholas can get his private law practice up and running. She lands a job with a company that, while the income is wonderful, may require the sale of her soul.

Life as Alice knew it quickly changes. On top of the new job learning curve, Alice’s father is quite ill, Nicholas seems to be drinking more than she’s ever known him to, and their three kids need her more than ever before. Alice has to bring home a paycheck so she keeps trying to hold things together.

For as anxious as all that may make a reader feel I found Egan’s writing engaging to the point where I didn’t want to stop reading. My kids are raised and yet I find myself in the “sandwich generation” in that I help out by watching my grandchildren and have elderly parents who are dealing with health issues.

I enjoyed all the characters in the novel but most of all Alice. I could relate to her on a few levels. My heart went out to her because I understood her unenviable position. I loved that, from time to time, Alice remembered quotations from people such as Frost and Churchill. And I loved Alice’s relationship with her dad. Their scenes and exchanges made me tear up a few times.

A Window Opens is a wonderful debut and I look forward to Elisabeth Egan’s next book.

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