Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In Office Hours by Lucy Kellaway

(Photo taken from Goodreads)

Title:  In Office Hours
Author:  Lucy Kellaway
Publisher:  Hachette Book Group
Publication Date:  2/7/2011
Language: English
Format:  Digital copy
Pages:  255 pages
ISBN-13:  9780446565691
Source:  Advanced reader's digital copy from HarperCollins, via NetGalley

I've been working a total of three years now, and it's still very funny to me when the topic of workplace romance is broached during lunch hour.  I've seen a few of my co-workers being romanced by their supervisors, managers, and what-not, but I have not given it much thought because they still maintain a professional attitude at work.  I myself never explored such territory as I preferred having a boyfriend outside of my work environment.  I am terribly easy to distract, and thinking about a boyfriend - who is somewhere around the vicinity also working - in the midst of doing an enema to a geria patient, I'm afraid I would have lost my license very early on in my career.  So when I read the synopsis for In Office Hours, I was mainly intrigued to see how it goes wrong, seeing as how I can only see when it goes right:  One of my colleagues just married her supervisor, but she's resigning and would be busy making a home for him.  Clearly, where I work, workplace romance is the last thing to worry about as it's always conducted decently and discreetly, so I wanted to explore a situation where it could get ugly and distasteful.  

The story revolves around two very capable and intelligent career women:  Stella is one of the more senior executives in Atlantic Energy and her career could go nowhere but up.  She's married to a previously successful film maker and has two children.  Bella, on the other hand, is PA to Stella's colleague.  She is a single mother in constant guard from her irresponsible and dangerous ex-boyfriend who keeps forcing to see their daughter.  When her boss resigns, she is transferred to another senior executive and embarks on a clandestine relationship with him.  Stella is assigned to handle two management trainees - one intelligent but bland female, and one insolent but very perceptive and talented male - and after being relentlessly pursued, begins an affair with her male trainee.

In Office Hours was supposed to showcase the emotional and professional dangers of illicit relationships with your co-workers - specifically your boss or your subordinate.  It was meant to narrate two affairs with parallel beginnings, circumstances, and consequences.  It was expected to reveal the exciting and dreadful risk of starting affairs in the office setting, while conducting business on the side.  Yes, business on the side, because as exhibited in this book, the relationship takes centerstage and the business just playing second fiddle, if not completely ignored. 

This book showed that, but sadly, nothing more.

I rarely drop something I do without finishing it.  But I almost did not finish this book not because it was horrible or offensive but because even early on in the first few chapters, this book became a drag and if I could just skim through the rest and get to the ending already, I would have done so.  But I almost never 'not finish' books because I felt as if I was doing the author a disservice.  They wrote a book to be read.  Maybe not from start to finish, but if you do not finish a book, what's the point then of a writer writing an ending?  So I plodded onto the story even if it was really getting boring and repetitive already.  While reading, I was trying to think which parts made me think that it was getting uninteresting, but I really could not point out something specific.  The characters, while sometimes feeling like mere stereotypes, can actually make me feel some sympathy.  The narration, alternating between Bella and Stella's points of view, is sometimes confusing but altogether consistent and solid.  

Altogether, the plot, the characters, the idea of a book about illicit liaisons in the workplace is a unique, if not remarkable, but the way it was executed was only mildly interesting.  Or maybe I am the wrong person for this book, as reading the reviews, it seems like a lot of people really liked the story.  Again, it may just be a question of me not having the enough number of brain cells required for such reading, or maybe the book itself clearly has its shortcomings.  But whatever the answer may be, In Office Hours is a good read for passing the time, while waiting for that email from that guy from the other department, or while counting down the hours before you meet your boss in some clandestine location to conduct some 'unbusinesslike' business. 


I received this book free of charge from the publisher, Hachette Book Group through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest and truthful review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

1 comment:

  1. I have to agree with you. Personally the best thing in this book is the cover. I know I sound harsh but nothing special about the story, many chicklit before this had explored romance in office situation, and some of those present it in better way.
    I didn't feel any connection nor emotion toward the characters...


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