The novel’s title semaphores its mission of subtle subversion. How Hard Can It Be? Let us count the ways! Reddy is a 49-year-old mother of teens, returning to work while attempting to support doddery relatives, maintain marital intimacy and renovate a clapped-out house. First-world problems, perhaps, but nonetheless the ones that drive most women of my acquaintance to counselling, pills, booze, despair, or all four.
Another thing that’s hard is writing a sequel to a bestseller. I Don’t Know How She Does It was the handbook for multitasking mothers of the 2000s. We embraced Reddy as a God-sent riposte to the notion that a woman’s worries would be over if she simply landed her own Mr Darcy. As Pearson slyly showed, that’s when the real problems start – when women try to navigate the labyrinthine paths of professional ambition, maternal guilt, spousal neglect and all-round exhaustion. Reddy’s return for a gimlet-eyed appraisal of the sandwich generation (the squeezed ham between needy teens and demanding parents) could not be more timely. I found the book so freakishly apposite that I snorted with laughter throughout. Like Reddy, I am looking down the gun-barrel of 50, while returning to work full-time and attempting to fathom the social media sea in which my teenager swims.