AMANDA BRIGHT @ HOME
Working moms on two continents found a kindred spirit in Kate Reddy, frantic heroine of the megaselling I Don't Know How She Does It; stay-at-home moms may become similarly attached to Amanda Bright, the bedraggled, deeply ambivalent heroine of this witty debut by journalist and TV pundit Crittenden (What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us). As she slogs through her day with five-year-old Ben (dangerously on the verge of flunking preschool) and three-year-old Sophie, Amanda, a former NEA publicist, soon stops deluding herself that she is "not a homemaker," just temporarily at home to care for her children. As husband Bob petulantly points out, it's not much of a home—cramped, chaotic, cluttered with doll body parts "as if it had been attacked by suicide bomber Ken." Play dates and cocktail parties at swank Beltway McMansions painfully remind Amanda of the folly of subsisting on Bob's government paycheck. Bob isn't even home much, thrilled to be leading the Justice Department's investigation of software giant Megabyte. Envious of Bob, alienated from her rich female friends, estranged from her disapproving feminist mother, Amanda turns to the one sympathetic soul in her life—Alan, a stay-at-home dad. Originally published as weekly installments in the Wall Street Journal, this breezily polemical tale is lively and sometimes poignant. Crittenden writes knowingly about Washington politics, but is just as astute describing the politics of play dates and private schools. At times she overplays the satire, surrounding her likable "domestic curator" with a supporting cast of self-promoting narcissists and cutthroat workaholics, none of them worthy of the heroine's ambivalence or her precious free time. Still, this is a fun read, perfect for poolside. (May 12)
Forecast:Crittenden has plenty of media experience, which should translate into attention for this potential big seller—if nothing else, it'll get buzz in the Beltway.