"It's no mean feat to fashion a novel out of the stuff of everyday life. . . . Fortunately, Owens is quite a writer. . . . Not Working works because there is lots going on beneath its placid, ordinary surface. . . . With this funny, serious debut, Lisa Owens has proved that she's one to watch."--The New Statesman "There are sharp observations about generational change, particularly on the topic of work. . . . The novel is a light read but it raises some timely issues. . . . A secure job with a future is not that easy to find, as Claire's comic and compelling tale serves to show. This book offers a form of catharsis for anyone who has felt that they are not quite doing their job right. . . . It is soothing to find you are not the only one noodling along in your career."--Financial Times "Stellar . . . Owens has an] ability to take the potentially trite problem-of-the-privileged trope and deftly craft it into readable fun."--Publishers Weekly "Owens offers a millennial take on the traditional British chick-lit heroine. . . . Claire is a realistically awkward character who will appeal to readers looking for a less-angsty take on the new adult trend."--Booklist "A novel as insightful about the contemporary dilemmas facing young professionals as it is sharp, incisive and laugh-out-loud funny."--The Observer "Lots of people say they laugh out loud when they read a book they love. But in the case of Not Working, I really did laugh out loud, often and raucously."--Elisabeth Egan, author of A Window Opens
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-03-28
- Reviewer: Staff
Owens’s stellar debut novel, composed of vignettes, concerns recently unemployed 20-something Londoner Claire Flannery, who has quit her communications job in an attempt to find her purpose. Claire has the luxury to do this thanks to some savings and her patient boyfriend, Luke, a brain surgeon in training with whom Claire owns a home. As her unemployment begins to stretch over several months, Claire finds herself plagued with doubts, such as her jealousy at Luke’s flirtatious colleague Fiona and her wilting at people’s disapproving attitudes toward her hiatus. Finding herself in stasis after a few half-attempts at job searching, Claire drinks too much at times and plunges into petulant states in which she starts arguments fueled by her insecurities. Owens’s protagonist may not always be likable, but this makes her all the more relatable. The author summons an ugly truth in the way Claire’s self-doubts test loved ones and turn otherwise fine situations unpleasant. Though the novel resolves in an inevitable way, this doesn’t detract from Owens’s ability to take the potentially trite problem-of-the-privileged trope and deftly craft it into readable fun. (May)