A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
Published by Simon Schuster Audio on August 25, 2015
Genre(s): fiction, contemporary, women’s fiction
Format & Length: audiobook, 11:40:48
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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?
I grabbed the audiobook of A Window Opens from my library on a whim when I was in the mood for a bit of a palate cleanser. And for what it was, it did the job.
“Yes, it really is possible to do anything, be everything. But maybe if I hadn’t dozed through Physics for Poets, I would have been a little more up to speed on the limitations of time. You can’t create more of it. You can sleep less, plan more, double book, set the alarm for 5:30am spin class, order winter coats for your kids while you’re on a conference call, check work email while your family is eating breakfast, but ultimately there are only so many hours in one day and you have to spend some of them in bed.”
This contemporary story is about Alice, wife and mom of three, who goes back to work full time when her husband makes a major career change. Not only is the premise relevant and relatable in our current culture, but Alice was a fairly relatable character as well. Even though there were enough aspects of her life that I couldn’t directly relate to, I could understand and empathize with her decisions and how she handled situations.
As a New Jersey native, I especially appreciated the setting and the focus on what commuting into New York City is like. It wasn’t until after finishing the book and looking up the town of Filament since it didn’t sound familiar that I discovered it was a stand in for Montclair and that the book was actually highly autobiographical. No wonder it felt so relatable.
That being said, A Window Opens is a story of a woman trying to do it all and inevitably realizing that some things are just more important than others. It’s a story that’s been told before and this didn’t necessarily bring anything new to the table. The audiobook was entertaining with skillful narration by Julia Whalen. But I’m not sure I would have finished this if I’d read the print version.
Ultimately, I enjoyed A Window Opens but don’t know that I’d ever read it again. Fans of contemporary women’s fiction might want to give it a shot, and if so, I definitely recommend trying the audiobook.