In Elisabeth Egan’s debut novel, A Window Opens, Alice Pearse has it all–she’s a modern-day mom, juggling three kids and a part-time job as books editor for women’s magazine You. Her secure life is uprooted when her hubby Nicholas, a lawyer, comes home with news that he isn’t making partner and is leaving his firm (and his steady paycheck) to start his own office. Until Nicholas starts building a clientele and earning some cash, Alice’s part-time magazine job isn’t going to cut it.
Alice considers herself lucky to land a job at e-publishing giant Scroll. They have big plans to get readers into their stores, buying ebooks–think gummy candies, super-lush seating, and curated novel recommendations. It sounds like Alice’s dream. The reality, however, is something a little more maniacal. Scroll is a passive-aggressive mess of tech-speak and never-ending company-wide e-mails. The dream job begins to turn into a nightmare.
Author Elisabeth Egan, in real life, followed a career path similar to Pearse’s. According to the New York Times, Egan worked at Self before accepting a position at Amazon Publishing. She also has three children, like Alice, and there are other echoes of her life in the novel. Egan has taken the old adage “write what you know” very seriously, and the authenticity comes through in the story.
Although marketed as chick-lit, this isn’t an entirely light-hearted story of finding oneself. Egan’s observations about modern life and its expectations of women are so spot on, they are hilarious. Alice’s conversations with her children, all innocence and awkward questions, are charming comedic breaks. But Alice’s father struggles with cancer throughout the story, and in places I felt myself tearing up. A Window Opens is emotional, endearing, and satisfying. Bring your tissues, grab your e-reader, and ask yourself, “What would you do to have it all?”