Tuesday, 29 March 2016

"The Fallout" by Margaret Scott.

In the Celtic Tiger Era, Dublin's International Financial Services Centre is the place to be.  Lavish parties balance the long hours, corporate junkets are the norm and a hard shell is required.  But for the staff at DKB, times are about to get tougher.  The bubble has burst and expectations have soared.  To top it all, one of their top-ranked staff members has quit in an unprecedented way and questions are being asked.  Just what is the fallout for these hard-working bankers?  

The recession is not a new topic in fiction, by any means.  We have read stories of all classes, all walks of life and all with different endings.  But this novel, from Kildare author, Margaret Scott, shows how women were treated during this difficult time.  As the pressure built to boiling point, throughout the country, just who was expected to deal with all the extra hours?  Women, nationwide, fought to balance their careers with their family lives and often something had to give.  Sure, there were men sitting in darkened office blocks, trying to balance books, but did they worry about bath time for their children?  Wonder what time the supermarket closed at?  Drop everything to collect a sick child from childcare?   Yet, we supposedly live in a modern world, where women are afforded equal rights.  This is a novel that shows this is not always the case.  

Kate is returning to work after a long break and is as nervous as hell.  Even getting the Luas gives her the shivers.  She is replacing Olivia, who recently walked out on her hard-earned job, without notice.  Why?  Mary is a forty something singleton who cannot understand why she is not appreciated more, in her work, her love life or by her sister.  Just because she has no kids does not make her a walkover, right?  Leona is the proverbial Queen Bee.  Top of her game, hard as nails and determined to be the best in her field.  But what must she sacrifice to maintain this?  Along with their male colleagues, these ladies all have one thing in common; a level of frustration, well hidden from each other.  

  Short, sharp chapters, told from different character perspectives and broken up by investigative reports, make for an easy read.  A few too many characters at the beginning, but this settles as soon as you get to know each one.   Margaret Scott uses her relaxed writing style, injected with humour, to bring these ladies to life.  Yes, they are working women, but they are walking on the fine tightrope that is a largely female problem.  Despite our brave declarations of our feminist independence, we still rely heavily on our partners, families and friends when it comes to the great balancing act.  This book shows that it's ok to have a dire day, a miserable week or indeed just throw the towel in altogether.  There are only so many hours in the day, afterall...

The Fallout is published by Poolbeg and is available in paperback and ebook format.

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