[I received a copy through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.]
I enjoyed this novel for its theme and its message, along with the format: interspersed with interviews gradually unveiling more of the “present time” plot, while the chapters themselves started some 2 months before and showed what led to this point. I guessed some things, I didn’t guess some others, and all in all, piecing things together was fun.
The topic at hand, of course, wasn’t fun. It balanced between office politics and double-standards—how female employees are (often) viewed vs. the “old boys club” feeling—, between deciding whether to complain about potential harassment or shut up for fear of retaliation, between wondering what does constitute harassment and whether or not one is “overreacting”, and let’s not forget also the usual “these women are lying and destroying lives” (funny enough, the people complaining about this don’t seem to react as often about how rapists are ruining lives as well). All well-made points, including the latter, because it -is- true they come forward right as the guy is poised to become the new CEO, in reaction to feeling suddenly even more threatened, but also one of opportunism… but not everyone would think about it this way, since there’d be lots of money involved as well. All uncomfortable topics, too, yet that need to be pointed at and discussed.
This said, I really had trouble empathising with the characters. I don’t have much in common with them for starters—apart, that is, from encounters with sexist douchebags and other run-ins involving the usual patriarchy-fed bull, although I’m aware I haven’t had it the worst either (fingers crossed). But I’m not a new mother, nor a single one, nor someone who cheated on a partner, etc., so I usually need a bit of extra connection with such characters, a little dose of something else, something more, to relate to their problems, especially their rich people problems, and… that didn’t really happen here. The impression I got out of the main female characters was more that they weren’t very pleasant people, who yet kept trying to justify their behaviours to themselves, a little like “but at least I do this better” and “but -I- am not like that, right?” Kind of weak in my opinion.
The story also dragged in parts, and even though I read it in 3 days, at times I wished it would get to the point faster. And I’m still unsure of who the narrator exactly was. The author? Not one of the characters, or at least, it doesn’t sound like it. (Their voices were quite similar, so I needed to see them named in each chapter anyway in order to quickly get who it was about.)
Conclusion: 3 stars. I did like the story, but never really connected with the characters.