Kate Reddy is counting down the days until she is fifty, but not in a good way. Fifty, in Kate’s mind, equals invisibility. And with hormones that have her in shackles, teenage children who need her there but won’t talk to her and ailing parents who aren’t coping, Kate is in the middle of a sandwich that she isn’t even allowed to eat because of the calories.
She’s back at work after a big break at home, because somebody has to bring home the bacon now that her husband Rich has dropped out of the rat race to master the art of mindfulness. But just as Kate is finding a few tricks to get by in her new workplace, her old client and flame Jack reappears – complicated doesn’t even begin to cover it.
This is a coming of age story for turning fifty. It’s about so much more than a balancing act; it’s about finding out who you are and what you need to feel alive when you’ve got used to being your own last priority. And every page will leave you feeling that there’s a bit of Kate Reddy in all of us.
How Hard Can It Be? is a real treat and you may find yourself laughing out loud and crying in equal measure.
Kate Reddy is not without a few problems – teenagers and their problems (do you even know what a ‘belfie’ is?); an old house in need of upgrading and almost constant attention from Piotr the builder; a ‘drop out’ husband trying to find himself by studying mindfulness; ageing and ailing parents; trying to get back into work after years away; a big birthday (50) looming; and the menopause is approaching along with the forgetfulness that often accompanies it. Modern parenting is definitely not easy.
She had once been a successful fund manager and now really needs to get back into the workplace and start earning to support the family. To give herself a chance of getting a job she knocks a few years off her age (and the ages of her children) and gets a bit creative with her CV.
She ends up getting a job at her old workplace where no one recognises her, the company having changed hands twice while she’s been away and her old colleagues long gone. Her boss and colleagues are all so much younger and less experienced but she keeps quiet about her earlier successful career there.
Of course it seems her boss is trying to set her up to fail. She gets the difficult clients and there are clashes with work and family life (and a few dilemmas). It’s definitely not easy juggling work and the demands of family life and trying to keep everyone happy.
I think everyone will identify with at least a part of Kate. I celebrated the big birthday long ago (and the big one after that). I was never really a career person; my children are grown up with children of their own and yet I can still recognise and sympathise with Kate’s predicament.
It’s brilliantly written and very funny but also quite sad. Kate is a wonderfully vivid character, in fact all the characters (good and ‘bad’) have their parts to play. It’s a really good, entertaining read. I loved it.
How Hard Can it Be? was published on 21 September 2017.
[My thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with a review copy]