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Promising Young Women

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3.82  ·  Rating details ·  1,448 ratings  ·  131 reviews

SHORTLISTED FOR THE IRISH BOOK AWARDS - NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR

'So brilliant ... I highly recommend it' Dolly Alderton

'I loved it. The writing is whipsmart and so witty' Marian Keyes

Jane Peters is an adrift twenty-something by day, and a world-weary agony aunt by night. But when an office party goes too far, Jane dissolves into the high-stakes world of being the Other

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Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published June 7th 2018 by Virago
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Average rating 3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,448 ratings  ·  131 reviews


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Roman Clodia
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Our company is teeming with women under thirty, and men approaching or over fifty. That is how the food chain works. Dozens of attractive young women do the grunt work for a handful of men, and the women get filtered out by motherhood. It’s the corporate version of natural selection.

This starts off like a conventional young-woman-starts-affair-with-older-married-boss storyline but O’Donoghue is too canny a writer to merely re-tell an old, old story. Instead she allows things to become
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Pip
Dec 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How is this a debut??? H o w ?

I think this book raised my blood pressure, in the very best way.
Anna Luce
3.75 stars (rounded up to 4 since this is a debut)

“I was afraid, really, of being the main character in my own life.”


Promising Young Women is an intelligent and subversive novel that examines the darker and more twisted aspects of a relationship between a female employee and her boss.

There was something about the story and its characters that reminded of Joyce Carol Oates (Zombie, Solstice, A Fair Maiden, and Nemesis) in that Promising Young Women is brimming with an almost palatable
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Nick Imrie
So I distrusted this book because I heard it was 'very topical'. And usually that means rushed out to catch the zeitgeist with lots of contrived sermons on The Topic. Also, I haven't read a book about young women having affairs in offices since I was a teenage girl who thought having affairs in offices was unbearably glamorous. But there's nothing like actually working in an office to make the idea of office affairs seem tedious and obscene.
So my initial distrust followed by a slow start meant I
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Jaclyn Crupi
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was fun until it became ridiculous. Read Break in Case of Emergency instead.
Karina Webster
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was much darker than I expected and really addictive - i devoured it in two sittings. While I haven’t gone through any of the things in this book, it felt very believable and relatable. The writing was excellent, I highly recommend.
Eva
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
such a deliciously dark book - relatable, gripping, and it touches upon so many different issues such as gaslighting and male privilege.

Jane is just a regular 20-something in London - her life is in transition, from being to a safe, secure yet ultimately unsatisfying relationship to being newly single, with lots of time & untapped ambition. Jane could be any girl that moves from a smaller city to London - where people tend to spend money they don't have & compete endlessly for
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Florina
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliantly written, a lot darker and grittier than I expected, reminding me strongly at times of Margaret Atwood's "The Edible Woman". There's a sense of eeriness and downright horror that slowly creeps up on you, like the old adage about the frog simmering in the pot until it boils. On the one hand, you're reading a dark comedy, wrapped in an office romcom gone wrong, wrapped in a pseudo-domestic thriller, and on the other hand, underneath all that there's a deeper, sharper novel about body ...more
Adam
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What starts off as a seemingly conventional ingenue-in-the-city, restless millennial narrative deftly warps into something much darker and more interesting and genuinely original than might immediately seem apparent. A Gothic thriller wrapped up as "chick lit" that foxes our perception and judgment of what is chick lit, and gendered perceptions even of literary genre. The on the nose references to contemporary living might come off as too wincingly familiar at times, but I felt like the ...more
Niamh
This book is intoxicating. It's something that, once you're hooked in, there's no way you can get out until you've finished and figured out what happened.. Of course, it gives you those familiar man-hatred feelings, which always makes me excited, but there you go. It's a novel that goes through so many incarnations- at the beginning, it feels more like a chick-lit esque novel about sordid romance, then it becomes a little more intensive and sensual, until finally you really get into thriller ...more
Josephine Quealy
By golly this was good. It was uncomfortably close to the bone at times, and maybe that was part of the appeal. Everything that Jane did or thought, I could get. I could really get. The acerbic wit that runs through the story really makes it.
Kaloyana
Jan 25, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
The first part of the book was more like 4,5 half stars for me - witty, wise, modern, confident, sharp, etc, everything I like in a contemporary novel, written by young female author. But the second half, turned out to be something like physiological thriller or something of that kind, I can't be sure. The ending was OK, but somehow weak, which made the book bleak. But mostly I enjoyed listening to it.
Jessica
Dec 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It can seem at first that the book focuses on the relationship between Jane and Clem, a married man. But really it's about all the abusive relationships: whether it is with a parent, a friend, a husband or a boyfriend. The slow decline of Jane feels so familiar and Im sure women can recognise themselves in some parts of her tormented life.
Imogen
May 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Both clever and witty, this book is an excellent commentary on power and control in the work environment, but also the fragility of mental health. I found it difficult to read at some points, but perhaps that’s what gives it its realism and differentiates it from others of its kind.

The characters never seem to be hugely likeable, yet they’re kind of relatable and the ending left me with a feeling of pride for Jane. Everyone has their flaws so again, the lack of “perfect” characters probably
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Helen O'Hara
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this absolutely riveting. It's the story of a young woman involved with an older man, with all the usual red flags that that involves, but with a twist of magical realism that gives it a particularly strong punch. Jane Peters is an agony aunt in her spare time, but all her good advice can't stop her from making bad decisions in her own life that see her striking up a relationship with a more senior colleague. Will it help her career or destroy her health and mental stability? This book ...more
Peter
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Years ago, before the web and smart phones, I found myself in Tokyo. Through a cab window it was just another international city - offices, hotels, apartment blocks, shops, choking traffic. In the bars and restaurants of my tower block hotel I could have the same superficial but effective communication I was used to anywhere else in the world - which meant I could access a survival diet of westernized food and CNN while attending a series of meetings with Japanese who spoke a respectable if ...more
Tenok
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I can see that Caroline O'Donoghue is good with words. She's funny, snappy, and clever. And I am sure she will have a successful career as a novelist. But I'm refusing to applaud this as a 'timely' novel in the era of the MeToo movement, because if only what it takes for a novel to work was whether or not it was timely.

I don't find it empowering when a twenty-something professional woman (who has already had some relationship experience) completely breaks down when a non-relationship
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Jessica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diem
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
4.5
Really fucking good!
Susan Lanigan
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book really blew me away. Sylvia Plath meets Bram Stoker meets Marian Keyes. Ostensibly a contemporary fiction about a young woman working in an advertising agency who is pulled into a disastrous yet addictive relationship with a much older man, it contains elements of gothic and fantasy that are delicately sounded, yet very much present - and by the time you do detect them, you are well and truly along for the ride.

Jane Peters is in her late twenties and works for a ghastly advertising
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Simina
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed very much reading it, I just wish the main character would've been more involved in her own life; she seemed to be a witness to what's happening to her, like us, the readers, not the actual receiver of the acts performed on her. Like she's the spectator of her own disaster movie. Her overall emotionless perspective doesn't do her any good either, especially in terms of likability and relatability. And I think the author left out more things than she should have, making this one of ...more
Sarah Nehemiah
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really poignant portrait of a 20-something female in the workplace. The power dynamics between men in power and their female subordinates often gets overlooked in our society, which is why sexual harassment has prevailed for so long. This book rips off the bandaid and questions every move men in the workplace make by directly asking, “is this okay, or are my feelings of being uncomfortable valid?” I won’t spoil any endings, but a lot of loose ends were not tied up, which made the book ...more
Sarah Noonan
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Honestly this is one of the best fiction books I've read is a very long time because it made me feel angry, sad and want to cuddle Jane. Although admittedly the story-line isn't ground-breaking it's the way that Caroline portrays it that makes this book amazing.

You feel ALL the feels. Highly recommend!
Susie Wang
I actually skimmed this one sometime last year for work.

To me, it's a story where you read the begining, and immediately know what would happen later in the book. I don't think I missed out too much skipping through a few pages.
Jessica Beare
May 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not at all what I was expecting! I was thinking it would be a Dolly Alderton style read, but it's a fiction that I think it very apt to any working woman in their twenties, exploring the glass ceiling and struggles of finding out what we want to do with our lives, that we all have to deal with.
Laura King
Jan 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought this was just another new adult, millennial mid twenties crisis novel but it actually got really weird and I was into it
April
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this! Loved the extended metaphor and the realistic portrayal of the medicore ups and downs of everyday life for modern 20-somethings in Britain. Lovely stuff! A Bridget Jones full of witty references and also a text that directly bows to the women's literature that has helped shaped the confusions that women experience when writing/shaping their own identity in a ever-shifting patriarchal world.
Qendxi
May 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very easy to read, that's why i read it in 4 days. Never read something like this before that's why i liked it this much i think. Thumbs up!
Amy Westgarth
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Better than expected with a lot of shrewd observations on life and love for the typical 20-something woman.

The story got a bit farfetched by the end and I think it ran out of ideas somewhat. It felt as if the story didn't end where the author thought it was going to when she started? It left me a little confused about the overall message, although I did really enjoy reading this and looked forward to reading it each time I picked it up.
Aimee
May 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this may be one of the best books I’ve ever read. I devoured it in a few days, totally engrossed by Jane and the plot. A hugely relatable plot and setting, I think there’s a bit of Jane in us all.
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“Our company is teeming with women under thirty, and men approaching or over fifty. That is how the food chain works. Dozens of attractive young women do the grunt work for a handful of men, and the women get filtered out by motherhood. It is the corporate version of natural selection.” 1 likes
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