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Kate Reddy has returned in full force in Allison Pearson’s new novel with St. Martin’s Press, How Hard Can It Be?  Pearson’s character, Kate, is now older, more mature, a more seasoned character. Pearson’s column, Sandwich Woman, about women in midlife who struggle with their children and their parents as both grow older, is a perfect segue to Kate Reddy at close to 50.

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Clearly Kate has more on her plate than she might have ever contemplated. And for the many of us who remember her as a young working mother in Pearson’s debut novel, I Don’t Know How She Does Ither new challenges are striking.

 We cheer her on as she battles and soothes her teenage daughter, and sympathize with her as she tries to manage her husband who is lost in his own world. And we praise her for how valiantly she faces the big ‘50”—including menopause and weight gain. This is before we contemplate Kate’s mother—whom she treats with impatience and affection, her in-laws, the other mothers and her true friends.

Then there is the fortitude required for women who return to the workplace after time out for child rearing. While ageism for women–a topic unto itself-seems to fester everywhere that Kate turns, the workplace represents an extreme case, one where female power is entwined with youth.

The novel is written with great wit, so the details of a day in the life of Kate Reddy cause us to laugh but also cringe. We identify closely with Kate’s attempts to control the unwieldy pieces of her life that are vividly described to us. As one reads on, she feels as if she is in the room with her–whether it is a middle-of-the-night crisis with her daughter Emily’s “belfie” or her own misery at the gym.

Then there are the conversations with her detached husband, her obsession with being thin again and the e-mails that surface from Kate’s old flame, Jack. Through it all, Kate has tremendous humanity, grit and determination. That is why we root for Pearson’s character and we remain in the moment with her. She is engaging and engrossing; there isn’t better company to keep than with Kate. We as readers welcome her adventures and appreciate her decisions.

How Hard Can It Be? is now available to purchase.


Allison Pearson was born in South Wales. An award-winning journalist, she was named Newcomer of the Year at the British Book Awards for her first novel, I Don’t Know How She Does It. Allison has written for many magazines and newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, the Independent, the Observer, the Sunday Times and the London Evening Standard. For four years she was the popular Wednesday columnist of the Daily Mail. Allison lives in Cambridge with her family.

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