I was so glad I hadn't seen the movie I Don't Know How She Does It before I started this book. I had read Pearson's novel I Think I Love You and found it not as at all as superficial as I was expecting. (for a book about a girl with a crush on David Cassidy!) Since I didn't have the Hollywood actors in my head, I was able to populate the story with characters of my own, instead of Sarah Jessica Parker--who I am sure did a wonderful job in the movie but who doesn't seem anything like the woman in the book.
For anyone who hasn't seen the movie either, the story--as you might infer from the title--is about Kate Reddy, a working mother trying (unsuccessfully) to balance her high-powered career and her marriage and motherhood roles (with a six-year-old and a baby not quite one as the novel opens.)
The title refers to the grating comment--often a biting insult veiled as a compliment that comes off as anything but--"I don't know how you do it." Katie has broken through the glass curtain at a London investment firm, but has to cover when she needs to leave early (or at a reasonable time) to attend her six-year-old daughter's Christmas pageant. She depends on her nanny and often slights her husband, who is often left to manage her honey-do list.
She also toys with a flirtation with an American client Jack Abelhammer after she accidentally sends him an email intended for a female friend. Kate becomes mentor to the a young Asian female Momo when the two are selected to represent the company's "commitment to diversity" and the two join forces with her other woman friends to bring down one of the most egregious and pompous chauvinists in the firm.
Pearson has created a lovable, self-effacing character who can rely on her female friends and still recognize the value of her own husband. And no, the message of the novel is not that woman (or anyone) can "have it all"--not without a price. Maybe in the movies, though, things turn out differently.