Book Club: How Hard Can It Be by Allison Pearson

Henpicked’s book of the month for November 2017…

The book How Hard Can It Be by Allison Pearson about a menopausal womanOur October choice The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was interesting – we seemed to either love it or struggle to get into it. Please check out the reviews.

And it’s not too late to add your own comments at the bottom of the page.

A huge thank you to our book champions and to the Henpicked community for their comments and reviews. If you have any further thoughts please drop them into Disqus at the bottom of the article.

So, our book of the month is How Hard Can It Be by Allison Pearson.

This is the follow-up to the international bestseller I Don’t Know How She Does It, the novel that helped change the perception and what it’s really like for working women. This time, the same character, Kate Reddy, is back juggling teenagers, aging parents and getting back into the workplace, and every page will have you laughing.

For fans of Helen Fielding and Caitlin Moran, this is funny, brilliant fiction.

As always, we’ll see!

Want to be a book champion?


We’re looking for 10 book champions so if you would like to volunteer, please let us know. We give each of our champions a FREE copy of the book of the month in return for hearing what they think of it.

Just like last month, we’ll let our book club subscribers have some key points about the book to think about throughout the month and in the meantime, enjoy!

Feel free to jump into the discussion about the book at any time during the month using Disqus which is ready and waiting for you and shows up at the bottom of this page – it’s free to sign up and once you are logged in, you can comment on any of the articles on the Henpicked website.

Other book suggestions

Please let us know if you have any recommendations!

We welcome you all and remember there is no right or wrong with reading – everyone’s opinion counts.

Happy reading!!


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From the Henpicked team!

  • Vicki Bramble

    I’m only 30 pages in & I love this book already. So funny!

    • Deborah

      Fabulous isn’t it. Allison Pearson’s book How Does She Do It is one of my all time favourites!

      • Diana Woodhead

        I have not read that one, but will certainly be looking for it when I have finished this one.

      • Marion

        This book is complete and total fun. I approached it with a snobby ‘this is grown up chick lit’ attitude and so quickly had to change my mind. I was hooked. Laugh out loud moments, cringy identification and total engagement. Fast paced with some very well drawn characters, I could barely put it down. I wanted to shout at Kate ( just go and sleep with Jack, please) and kick the dreadful husband . This is the book I want to write. I had a really nasty cold whilst I was reading this and it kept me going! It was one of those wonderful books when you think about what the characters are doing when you’re not reading the book! I am going to give it to my daughter who might be within a few years of meeting Peri. (Could someone please tell me how that has happened?)
        Read it, laugh, cry and enjoy it .

    • Nicola Doughty

      Me too! I started it last night and I’m totally hooked. Can’t wait to get a chance to pick it up later.

  • Nicola Doughty

    I’m loving this book so far. It’s so easy to race through. It’s a fabulously funny and insightful look at life of a woman rushing headlong towards 50. There’s plenty of laugh out loud moments as we follow the trials and tribulations of Kate Reddy. But at the same time there are also some deeper storylines bubbling away in the background and I’m intrigued as to how those will be explored. On another note, I’m wondering how I can see myself in both Kate’s and Emily’s characters – do we ever really lose that teenage angst as we get older?

  • Laura

    Feeling a little in the minority here – struggling to get into this! Finding witty moments in between fairly clunky bits of description. Will stick with it though. Have made friends with the characters and I’ve a feeling I’ll enjoy it once I’m further into it – not read 100 pages yet.

    • Diana Woodhead

      Hope you manage to get into the book, but it sounds like its not the right genre for you.

    • Deborah

      Thanks for your review Laura!

      • Laura

        Hiya! Yes, thanks! Not sure if my review came up or not. Persevered and while it’s not the book for me, I can see how others would enjoy the relatable, realistic and laugh out loud account of life for a middle aged woman. It has all the ins and outs of normal family life told in a witty manner from a woman stretched in all directions.

  • Diana Woodhead

    I am about half way through this book and am thoroughly enjoying it. I think the reason is that i can relate to the main character Kate Eddy, though I am past her life stage now as my children have left home. It is great that it is bang up to date as well as I am often reading books set in the past. Lots of witty insightful comments and very easy to read, only complaint is that the book is rather too large to carry round in my small handbag!

  • Vicki Bramble

    I really loved this book. I thought it was well written, in an almost ‘chatty’ way – I felt like a fly on the wall of Kate’s life. I really liked her character & thought she was laugh out loud funny on more than one occasion. Peri menopausal symptoms had me in stitches (as well as wincing with empathy). The sub plot involving Emily was difficult to read & I confess that, as a mum of 2 teenagers, I put the book down for a couple of days to summon up strength to deal with what I felt was coming. I’m thinking of recruiting a ‘Roy’ for myself, goodness knows I need one. I enjoyed the book very much & will be buying it for my friends. Thanks for choosing it.

  • Nicola Doughty

    I’ve really enjoyed this book from cover to cover. I loved the way that it was both funny and sad in equal measure as Kate juggled her many roles and tackled all that life threw at her. And I liked how the book looked at issues ranging from the menopause, ageism in the workplace, and social media bullying right through to gambling, infidelity and dementia. The witty way she deals with the challenge of returning to work made the deeper storylines, such as that of Kate’s mother-in-law’s declining health, all the more heartbreaking. Overall though this is a funny, heart-warming book with a neat (some may say predictable) ending and I would thoroughly recommend it.

  • Imogen Jamieson

    I am about half way through now and am find it amusing with some great observations that are completely relatable. My expectations were high as I loved ‘I don’t know how she does it’ and although I am enjoying this novel and seeing how Kate’s life has unrolled over the years, I feel that at times AP has resorted to a series of clichés and so the humour is slightly forced and jars a little. That said, I think she has written Emily with brilliant perception and great sensitivity and that the underlying messages of the entire novel are strong and thought-provoking. Its cleverly written though as you can enjoy the story at face value – delivered frothily through Kate’s fuzzy peri-menopausal eyes or look beyond to the issues that AP is highlighting.

    • Deborah

      It’s such an great way to raise awareness of menopause – told with humour but at the same time, as you say Imogen, very relatable!

  • Nicola Willcocks

    This was the perfect light read for me to indulge in during the days immediately after my hip replacement op last week at the ripe old age of 53. I wasn’t expecting this particular ‘first’ on my mid life plate but am taking a leaf out of Kate Reddy’s book and trying to find humour in the dark moments. I enjoyed catching up with Kate after many years and I’m sure that most mid life women will find something in her tale that resonates. There were some laugh out loud moments ( that got the nurses looking after me wondering if I was over doing the pain relief), as well as some sighs of recognition, sadness and empathy. I identified with the themes of aging parents, parenting, the sometimes destructive nature of social media, finding good work, ageism, the loss of self. There was also a sense of rage – why do we still have to face that age old chestnut of ageism and sexism in the workplace? It is somehow a lot worse coming from the younger men in the book… who should know better.
    So, an entertaining read with some very current themes. A cheesy ending, but I’m ok with that. I’d like to think that Kate finds some fun and happiness amidst the challenges that midlife brings and that she storms through to career success, emerging post menopausal, battle scarred yet triumphant!

    • Deborah

      Hello Nicola, hope you’re well and good to hear you enjoyed the book. Wishing you a full, speedy recovery! Best wishes, Deborah

  • Diana Woodhead

    Finished the book last night. Even though i am over 10 years older than Kate, I could relate to her situation in many ways. Although my parents died young, we did go through some trails and tribulations with my mother in law. I was always the breadwinner with my first marriage, so was under a lot of pressure as a working mother, as it was frowned on in the 80’s I loved her menopausal anecdotes especially the memory recall which i can definitely relate to. Teenage angst comes in any era, just different challenges to work through. All in all a great book.

  • Rowena Green

    Have finished the book and quite enjoyed it. As I am somewhat older than Kate, menopausal problems have been well and truly left behind! It did make me think though about teenage involvement with social media and the pressures and problems they face because of it. We raised three sons without these awful pressures but it has made me aware of the problems my grand-daughters may face. I will try to be a listening Granny and be there for them.

  • Laura

    Persevered and while it’s not the book for me, I can see how others would enjoy the relatable, realistic and laugh out loud account of life for a middle aged woman. It has all the ins and outs of normal family life told in a witty manner from a woman stretched in all directions.

  • Laura

    Persevered and while it’s not the book for me, I can see how others would enjoy the relatable, realistic and laugh out loud account of life for a middle aged woman. It has all the ins and outs of normal family life told in a witty manner from a woman stretched in all directions.

  • Awarby

    This is definitely my kind of book with great characters, humour and pathos. I am more than 10 years older than Kate but remember only too clearly trying to juggle teenagers, elderly parents, and job. Not easy and like Kate was often filled with guilt. All areas of modern day life were covered from teenage angst to menopause, bullying, sexism and tragically dementia. My only criticism would be that I found the first few chapters quite hard going as there was a bit too much description and at times I found myself thinking ‘get on with it’. As I got further into the book however I thoroughly enjoyed it.