This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Reviewed by Kay Brooks
Eight years ago, Lisa Stratton felt like the luckiest woman alive as she became a wife to a man who adored her. Now, as she takes stock of their two children – who go to her for every need and whim – plus the sole responsibility of keeping their home spotless, she realises that she has become more of a mother and housekeeper to her once doting husband, Adam. Exhausted by the responsibility of endless household and mothering tasks teamed with her part-time job, Lisa decides it is time to take a stand and goes on strike. At first, Adam humours the strike, but when it becomes clear that Lisa is serious, he has to decide whether to fight for what he sees as his manly rights or to learn what it really means to have a domestic partnership.
At first, this novel infuriated me and I found myself feeling quite lucky to have a husband who does take a little responsibility for the mess he makes, and for the children that we chose to have together. I’m not denying there are times when he will walk past an easily accomplishable task, such as picking up a squished grape, but there would never be a suggestion that it is my sole responsibility. The male characters are all very sexist at the beginning, seeing housework as women’s work – despite the fact their wives are working as well and, in some cases, have health problems due to exhaustion.
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Lisa’s best friend Cal is blatantly struggling with a new baby and keeping the house clean, but is verbally attacked when she hires a cleaner. Mandy, who cleans for a living, and is expected to wait hand and foot on her immature, irresponsible husband while being subjected to sporadic violence, also decides to join the strike with little empathy from her mother-in-law.There didn’t seem to be any balance with the male characters; they were all completely unaware of the pressure they put on their wives and how unreasonable they were being. Luckily, as the characters of Adam and his best friend, Ginger Steve, become more developed, I realised that there was more to them than originally thought. As the main earners, they are affected by pressures too and suffer deterioration in their relationships with their children thanks to an unhealthy focus on work. I expect my reaction to the male characters, part acknowledgement of their behaviour and part anger at the unreasonableness of their expectations, was exactly the reaction that Kemp intended to provoke.
As the plot progresses, it becomes less about female empowerment and more about acquiring and maintaining equality through mutual support and respect in a relationship. The importance of friendship and standing together, regardless of gender became more apparent.
A provoking and enjoyable read.