Title: A Window Opens (2015)
Author: Elisabeth Egan
Genre: Chick Lit, Realistic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Extent: 384 pages
Review: I picked up A Window Opens because of the cute cover (outfit here) and immediately got sucked into the fun, bookish world Egan has weaved for her main character, Alice Pearse.
Alice is a loving mother and wife in her thirties, a part-time editor at You magazine, and a loyal, excited book lover. When her husband makes a radical career change, Alice has to step up and become the breadwinner of her family—a challenge that she is up to, especially when she lands a job at Scroll, a start-up company that promises to be the future of reading, with its chain of chic literary lounges and dedication to first-edition classics. Alas, things are not always what they seem, and we soon spiral into a crazy journey as everything takes an unexpected turn.
Chick lit, especially good chick lit, can be hard to get right, but I think Egan is definitely on the right path. This novel, in a word, is real. It’s smart, it’s realistic, it’s heartfelt. The challenges that Alice finds herself in are real. Paying the bills, taking care of the children, performing well at work, caring for her sick parent, dealing with relationship troubles… these are all things we often find ourselves struggling with, and I felt sad and scared for Alice when things didn’t go right, and happy and relieved for her when things did go right.
Book lovers will highly enjoy this debut novel, if only because of all the literary references scattered throughout the story and the focus Egan puts on reading. When we start the story, Alice is a books editor; her job is getting free books, reading them, and reviewing them. What a dream! Then she lands a job at a reading-focused tech start-up and gets to choose a first-edition novel to keep at her office. Also a dream. We also get a glimpse into the world of ebooks versus print books, which is a big issue in the industry and has been for years.
Above all, I think it’s just simply refreshing to read a book about someone completely normal. Alice is a likeable, warm character and her joys and sorrows are often relatable, her fears utterly familiar, that it’s hard not to sympathise with her when her life gets turned upside-down in a matter of months. Yet this book has a message that I think many of us can learn from, especially during tough times in our lives: When a door closes, a window opens.
A Window Opens is probably one of my favourite reads of the year (so far!) and I’d heartily recommend it to anyone who wants something more ‘real’.