The news smote Stacey like a blow to the heart. She had worked for the investment bank for 16 years and was generally acknowledged to be a City high-flyer. And now she had been sacked for asking for some flexibility so she could spend more time with her mother who was suffering from dementia. Just like that. Not even a negotiation. Life was so unfair. If she was a man everything would have been different.
She looked at her phone. There were missed calls from Melissa, Gaby and Beth, her best friends from university. She couldn’t face talking to them just yet. So she went home. “I’ve got a promotion,” said her husband Steve. Stacey ignored him. Thankfully, those would be just about the last words he said in the entire book because, like all the other men, he was of no real interest.
Like Stacey, Melissa was beginning to feel she was more a set of feminist issues than a fully developed character. It had been her choice to be a single mother – Tom had been born after a brief fling with Will – but she was proud of the fact that her bespoke management consultancy was now recognised as one of the best in the country by many FTSE 100 bosses. It was just that she was finding it difficult now Tom had reached the age of 15 and wanted to spend time with his father’s family. She must remember to call her best friends Stacey, Gaby and Beth.
Even though she was the woman who had it all – a high-powered job in the City that she adored with zeal, a husband who stayed at home and barely existed, and three talented children – Gaby had a big problem. Melissa, Beth and Stacey all expected her to give Stacey a new job and she didn’t know how to tell them there was no job to give as she had given it to Sarah, who was married to Will, even though at the time she hadn’t known Sarah was married to Will. It was all extremely awkward and she was worried what Stacey, Melissa and Beth would say when they found out.
As Stacey, Melissa and Gaby faced up to three textbook midlife problems for women, Beth was assigned the role of lesbian. She was very happy being a lesbian and had settled down in London’s trendy East End, which had become a magnet for tech firms, to enjoy her life as a world famous academic expert in corporate behaviour with her girlfriend Claire. That evening, Claire dropped a bombshell. “You’re dead boring,” she said, “and I want half the house even though you paid for it all.” Beth was devastated and phoned Melissa, Stacey and Gaby.
Stacey found it hard to adjust to being on her own in the house and let herself go a bit. It was very hard trying to care for a mother with dementia when your self-esteem had taken such a crushing blow and you didn’t know why your friend Gaby hadn’t offered you a job.
Melissa was disconcerted to find out that Tom wanted to add Will’s surname to his own and was going out with one of Gaby’s daughters. Luckily, it was all quite innocent so there was nothing there to frighten any of the readers. Her phone rang. It was Sarah. “I need to see you,” she said. Melissa didn’t want to see the new wife of her son’s father but went anyway. “You’re trying to lure Will back, aren’t you?” Sarah shouted. Melissa had to explain that she wasn’t and that life was very complicated sometimes. Sarah was reassured.
Gaby decided she had had enough of not telling Stacey or Melissa that she had given the job to Sarah and decided it was time to be honest with everyone. “I gave the job to Sarah even though I didn’t know who Sarah was at the time,” she announced. Being honest was very difficult sometimes, but luckily Melissa and Stacey were able to forgive her. With a weight off her mind, Gaby started to clear out her wardrobes. “You’d look good in some of these clothes, Stacey,” she said. “Why don’t you have them?”
Beth began to realise she was being written out of the story already.
Stacey was very pleased with the clothes. Now that she had put her mother in a care home, she was a lot happier and had had a brilliant idea for a new job. She was going to start a new charity helping women to project the right image at job interviews. “That’s a good idea,” said Steve, crawling out from under a rock. “Shut up, you twat,” replied Stacey. “Who asked you to speak?”
Melissa was glad she had found a way of helping Tom assimilate into his second family as statistics had shown that 73% of single mothers never managed to do that. “Would you like to go out with me and get married?” said one of Tom’s school teachers. Melissa nodded.
Gaby had been startled to discover that Sarah was going to work with Melissa. She would now have to train up a new woman to do the job that would become vacant. Still, life was always a challenge for women.
Beth was so bored with her lack of involvement in the book that she went to Lausanne.