Thank you to the publisher Little, brown for my gifted ARC.
Sloane, Ardie, Grace and Rosalita have worked in the same legal office for years. The sudden death of the firm’s CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Each of the women has a different relationship with Ames, who has always been surrounded by whispers about how he treats women. Those whispers have been ignored, swept under the rug, hidden away by those in charge.
But the world has changed, and the women are watching this latest promotion for Ames differently.
This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.
Sloane and her colleagues’ decision to take a stand sets in motion something catastrophic and unstoppable: lies will be uncovered, secrets will be exposed and not everyone will survive. All their lives – as women, colleagues, mothers, adversaries – will be changed for ever.
Based around a group of educated women working as ‘in house’ lawyers for a large sportswear company in Dallas, we meet Sloane, Ardie and Grace. All three are working mothers, (Grace recently so), in high paid roles living, or at least trying to live, a life of having it all.
All three women enjoy their work and the life style they can afford and are looking at promotion and advancing their careers.
The first half of the book introduces us to the main characters, their lives and the issues and problems they all have as working mothers. Lack of time, career advancement, guilt at not spending more time with their children, husbands and fellow male colleagues attitudes ….the list goes on. But also the more central thread of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Their boss Ames Garrett has, for many years, had a reputation for the way he treats female staff. A reputation that all three women are well aware of, either personally or as something they have witnessed. A previous boss to Sloane indeed gave her a warning before she joined the company. ‘Watch out for Ames Garrett’ and between them they try to look out for one another and other female staff. Whispering warnings and advise.
However when the companies CEO suddenly dies it is soon realised that Ames is likely to be next in line and they all start to wonder what this will mean. Then an email appears, the BAD list and they all agree that whispering about it amongst themselves is no longer enough.
This is very much a book for this time with a strong Me Too movement running through it. It also highlights the general everyday struggles of women in the workplace, ok in this instance inside a corporate setting, but nevertheless it does this in a believable way and often with some dry humour.
I liked the different styles of writing within the book. Different character view points, flashbacks and transcripts from police interviews and employee statements. It really added to the worrying part in accusations such as these of who will be ‘believed’ by whom. In the second part of the book when you are more aware of what has happened it really adds to the thriller style side of the novel.
I liked the characters in so much as to say they were not all perfect and squeaky clean. They all had different personalities and had all made their own mistakes. I also liked the inclusion of Rosalita not just to have a victim from a different financial and educational background but also to highlight the way in which she was treated by the other women as well as the men.
It left me with some questions though and I would love to be able to get the authors answers on these. For example it mentions the women’s preoccupation with the way they look. Often mentioning the clothes they are wearing, their high heeled shoes and in one part saying how it doesn’t make it fair that they have to spend more time on their appearance than the men do. I was wondering why this was done as I felt it made them sound quite stereotypical. Is it perhaps showing that not only do they have to consciously match up to the men but also to the other women?
I think this would make a superb book group read as I think the readers own personal experience or indeed lack of them on this topic and the work place in general would give each reader a different take on the book and make for some great discussions. Different age groups of reader would be interesting too.
The Whisper Network is published by Little, Brown and is out in Hardback and e book today!