A Window Opens, by Elisabeth Egan

2 Nov
Three low stars of Five

Three low stars of Five

Looks like a lot of my friends really liked this book, but I’m going to be super honest here: I didn’t.

I didn’t hate it, I just wasn’t impressed at all, and could drum up no sympathy for the main character, Alice.

First thing: the blurbs on the back cover call it “laugh-out-loud funny” and I couldn’t disagree with this more. Beware anyone who’s looking for some light chick lit. Liane Moriarty starts her books out light and fluffy, then adds in a lot of dark heavy stuff – there is still a lot of humor left in her stories; Elisabeth Eganstarts this book out on an even keel and then gets deep into a parent losing a battle with terminal cancer and an alcoholic spouse (whom Alice basically never deals with over the course of a year). Perhaps there is humor to be found in these subjects, but I didn’t see that any humor was being attempted and these were main plot points. I didn’t find the book funny, I found it sad and depressing.

And then we have Alice, who is having difficulties adjusting to working life even though she has a husband AND A NANNY helping her at home. She doesn’t even have to worry about dinner, her mother comes over to make dinner on Tuesdays and the nanny takes care of the rest. Do you know what I would have done to have dinner ready for me when I got home from work? To have had ANY help at home? I’m not saying work life is easy, I’m saying Egan is going to have to try a lot harder to impress women who had to work and take care of their children without help of a husband, much less a NANNY. Not to get into a competition with a fictional character, but I was a single mom with a full time job, taking 14 college units, and dealing with my parents’ estate and clearing out and selling their house when they both died suddenly within 4 months of each other. Call me when you’ve managed all of that, ALICE.

And she has the nerve to be pissed at her husband when he helps her dying father get his affairs in order, or helps out her widowed mother later on. What kind of daughter ARE you, Alice?

So okay, let’s say Alice concedes the hard-life competition to me, and the author points out that she wasn’t the one who declared the book to be humorous. I still say there wasn’t enough of anything else in this book. It wasn’t a comedy, it wasn’t serious enough to be dark, it wasn’t light and fluffy, it wasn’t solid literature. To me, it was just the story of an average woman’s life over the period of a year. I didn’t get anything out of that. I didn’t learn anything. Contrary to several other GR reviewers, I also did not find anything “to think about”. Perhaps I’m just too old and already lived through that life and those decisions, and perhaps my own circumstances prevent me from empathizing with Alice. But what I saw in this book was a woman resentful of the needed attention her husband gave her own parents, and yet couldn’t be bothered to text back the children she claimed to miss so badly.

Obviously not the book for me. It wasn’t awful, I’m not going to go down to 2 stars. But I won’t be picking up this book again, and I’ll have serious considerations before reading another book by this author.

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