Sunday, October 31, 2010

In Office Hours

Author: Lucy Kellaway
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (Hachette Book Group)
Release Date: February 7, 2011
Genre: Women's Fiction

In Office Hours is a tragic romance, following two women, working in the same office though in different departments and at different levels, who each have a romance with a co-worker - in Bella's case with her boss, and in Stella's case with her assistant. Switching back and forth between the two stories, which intertwine at points, the book details all the steps of the relationships - from the first tiny buds to the dramatic end of each, and finally to the closure each woman attains when it's all over.

I love this book! Besides feeling like I got an accurate picture of what goes on in an office and how relationships and gossip work in this setting, I acutely felt the ups and downs of each saga. And there are many of both! It felt so real, each event following so naturally from the other, and the emotions feeling so authentic and so clearly portrayed.

The emotional roller-coaster both characters go though totally affected me. I felt along with each of them (so I guess it's a good thing that the arcs of the two stories follow each other pretty closely, or else I really would have been up and down and up and down...!). Even when they were doing things that made no sense and I was saying "no, no, don't do that!" I understood why they were doing such ridiculous things, and I could really feel how love makes you do crazy things that you would never do otherwise.

I like the structure of the book as well. The love and romance (if you could call it that) are grounded in real life, they don't exist in a vacuum - it's very clear how the affairs affect each woman's (and the men's) life at work and outside of work. The different parts of the story are so closely interwoven that all the various pieces work together to create the fuller picture of what's going on. I do like, though, that the outside world is marginalized, which gives the effect of magnifying the romances to epic proportions, which seems to be what the lovers would feel - obsessing with the affair to the point that everything else fades to be only a minor irritation, and disappears whenever they're with their lovers.

The e-mail technique works really well, too. The writing and thinking and re-writing and re-thinking and re-re-writing sounds so real, because that is what actually happens in real life - thinking about how each word sounds before hitting send, hitting send and then regretting it...

I kept flipping back to re-read parts of the book, because each page is filled with so much emotion, and I definitely will be reading this book again in the future! And it'll be released on my birthday!

Thanks to NetGalley and Hachette Book Group for providing a digital copy for review.

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