Warner, 2004 (2003)
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
inally a novel about an intelligent woman who's chosen to stay home with young children, despite a feminist family background and the prevailing trends of career and daycare. Anyone who has been through it will understand her difficulties in dealing with the detritus of daily life with small children, '
Four years spent earning a bachelor's degree had not prepared her for a career as a domestic curator.
manda and Bob live in a small house in Washington. He works at the Justice Department. Though connections allowed them to enroll their children as '
financial assistance students
' in a posh private preschool, Amanda has little in common with the other mothers, '
prized thoroughbreds, retired from the track
'. As the story opens, Bob announces to Amanda that he has been given the job of lead investigator in the government's case against Megabyte, '
the largest computer software manufacturer in the country.
s Bob becomes more and more embroiled in the case, Amanda struggles with: problems at the school, which tells her that their son Ben is developing '
'; a growing interest in an '
'; a demanding old friend; and her general dissatisfaction with a life, in which she often feels as a mother at home with her kids '
as if she were invisible
'. Then, as Amanda tries to take control of her situation, an indiscreet dinner party blows up in their faces, hurting Bob's job and their marriage, and she must make an important decision about her life's direction.
y the end of the novel, there are many changes in Amanda's life, some of them quite surprising. Women who have been through the challenges of life with small children will empathise with many of Amanda Bright's musings, such as one on friendships in the early years of motherhood - '
like the friendships soldiers form in battle: a camaraderie based on the besieged circumstances of the moment
' - that drift away over time. Finally Amanda concludes that even when life feels like being trapped in a circle, the circle is that of the rings inside a maturing, strengthening tree.
any will have a
been there, done that
reaction to various bittersweet experiences that the author describes in Amanda Bright's life at home. While I enjoyed those, what I most appreciated in this novel was its depiction of the transition of a young woman to full adulthood and parenthood, the shedding of early ideals, and the discovery of what matters most.
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