Literary Fiction Review –
A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan
When Nicholas discovers that he hasn’t made partner in his law firm, he quits, leaving the family facing an uncertain financial future. His wife Alice decides it’s time to get a full time job and give up the part time job that she loves and that allows her to spend plenty of time with her children. She gets a job with an innovative new company and feels that she is, at last, back on career track. The window of opportunity has opened and she plans to make the most of it. The excitement soon wanes, however, when the company takes a new direction, one Alice doesn’t feel comfortable with. That, along with her father’s waning health, puts a lot of stress on Alice and she discovers that there are more important things in life than a high powered job and the status and money it brings.
Early in this book I wondered how long it would hold my interest because I seemed to be reading about the uninspiring day to day details of a very ordinary person’s life. I kept waiting for something more dramatic to happen, but it didn’t. What kept me reading was the subtle underlying tension that built as the story progressed, something that only a highly skilful author could do in such an ordinary story. What makes the book worth reading is, in fact, its very ordinariness. Any woman with young children who has put her career on hold, or left it behind, and who secretly wonders what she could have done had she remained in the full time workforce will relate to this, as will anyone who has faced mortgage repayments on one income, and the insight in the book comes slowly but surely. The author never gives her opinion on Alice’s situation, it just becomes clear to the reader that when Alice makes the inevitable final decision, it is not only the obvious decision, but also the right one.
This is not an earth-shattering story, but it is a good one, and one that reaffirms motherhood as a position worthy of respect in our society. Well worth the read.