How Hard Can It Be?


Allison Pearson’s brilliant debut novel, ‘I Don’t Know How She Does It’, was labelled a ‘national anthem for working mothers’ by Oprah Winfrey.

Seven years later, Kate Reddy is facing her 50th birthday. Her children have turned into impossible teenagers; her mother and in-laws are in precarious health; and her husband is having a midlife crisis that leaves her desperate to restart her career after years away from the workplace. Once again, Kate is scrambling to keep all the balls in the air in a juggling act.

Will Kate reclaim her rightful place at the very hedge fund she founded, or will she strangle in her new “shaping” underwear? Will she rekindle an old flame, or will her house burn to the ground when a rowdy mob shows up for her daughter’s surprise (to her parents) Christmas party? Surely it will all work out in the end. After all, how hard can it be?


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‘Revolutionary … Both funny and unflinching’ – Elizabeth Day, Daily Telegraph

‘Wildly entertaining’ Reader’s Digest

‘[Pearson] nails the comedy and the pathos of daily domestic life like no one else’ – Country Life 

Spring Chicken’s review

by Tony Gregory

Tony Gregory

How hard can it be by Allison Pearson

As I approached the task of reading this novel by Allison Pearson, I had reservations.

My concern was that I had read her first book about the same character many years ago and had found it to be brilliantly funny.

I feared that this one could not live up to the standard of its predecessor.

This is not unusual. Some stories are so exceptionally good that one feels that all of the author’s talent and soul has been spent. I was thinking of works such as “Catch 22’, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird” and ‘Catcher in the Rye’

I was interested to read in the Acknowledgements that the author had these reservations.

“I am never sure about sequels” she said

Neither of us needed to worry!

Kate Reddy, the subject of the book, had been an enormously busy business woman with a young family, who juggled with all the challenges that life brought.

Now, about 20 years on, she is not working and the family have moved out of London to a rambling house in need of much more renovation and at much greater cost than anticipated.

Her husband is having a mid-life crisis and is studying Mindfulness or similar, He seems to be mentally and physically a bystander.

Kate is trying to cope with him, building works, difficult teenagers, an ageing mother and in-laws, with a hint of dementia lurking and a bitter, impoverished sister.

To cope with potential money problems, Kate has to find work. She encounters ageism which she counters by lying about her age. When she finds work she has to deal with misogyny, dirty tricks and male resentment, together with the return of an old flame.

The result is a book every bit as good as the earlier one: hilariously funny at times, full of sharp observations and many “laugh out loud” moments.

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