Book Review: "In Office Hours" by Lucy Kellaway

Summary from IN OFFICE HOURS is the story of Stella and Bella, two intelligent working women who each fall for impossible lovers--at work. Kellaway's keen observations on the way in which affairs move from state to state are a sort of masterclass in office love, bringing to life both the excitement of illicit romance and the ridiculousness of business behavior and language with a sharp sense of humor.

IN OFFICE HOURS is intelligent, funny, moving and agonizing, but it's also so painfully recognizable to any woman who has ever worked in an office or ever been in love. Kellaway hits a real nerve with her depictions of how people come to get into the emotional messes that we do and then how very difficult it is to get out again.

I normally do not like reading books about infidelity. Marriage vows are something that I take very seriously and I do not like seeing them treated lightly. However most of the time media shows affairs from either the man's point of view or the woman who is being cheated on. The role of the woman who is involved in the affair is not normally seen. She is normally made out to be the instigator and the villain of the whole situation as the man is usually forgiven and taken back by the wife. This book takes two affairs from the woman doing the cheating's point of view which gives the story a unique premise.

Stella and Bella (though couldn't the author have chosen two names that didn't rhyme?) are at different stages in their life and in different positions at their shared place of work. However they both have one thing in common. Each is having an affair with someone at work. For Stella, a married woman with children, she is the executive having an affair with her young assistant Rhys (love that name). Bella is a single mother in an assistant position having an affair with her married supervisor.

There aren't any really likable characters in the book pretty much because I don't approve of what anyone is doing. But neither do I really hate anyone. I rather feel sorry for both women because they must have been in such emotional lows in their life to have to give in to their feelings in this way. From everything Stella mentions about her family, she seems to have a really good life. Her job is doing well, her family is doing well yet she still feels the need to find affection somewhere else. Bella however has no one and instead finds it in a man who is using his wife's depression as an excuse to cheat on her. What did bother me about this situation is how he wanted it both ways and then pretty much degrades Bella.

Overall, I enjoyed the writing and the story. Like I said, I don't endorse infidelity but I was fascinating by the stories of these two women and how they chose to handle their situations. It's also very interesting to see the behind the scenes side of how a professional company like theirs is run. This isn't a light read but it does make for a good beach read.

In Office Hours by Lucy Kellaway is published by Grand Central Publishing (2011)

This review copy was provided by the publisher


  1. The subject matter of this one kind of turned me off, but it sounds like the book is better than I thought it would be.


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