Claire Flannery has just quit her office job, hoping to take some time to discover her real passion. The problem is, she’s not exactly sure how to go about finding it. Without the distractions of a regular routine, Claire is forced to confront the most challenging parts of herself, and the realities of modern working life.
...[a] sharp, self-deprecating comic debut ... Not Working is written as a series of microsections ranging from a couple of lines to a few pages ... These are often very funny ... but the randomness can make the book feel as desultory as Claire’s job search. Some of the observational comic material is overfamiliar ... as are the types of supporting character we know so well from Bridget Jones: forbearing boyfriend; mild father; overbearing mother; mean posh girls with toned arms who will get their comeuppance. But what marks the book out is its delicately understated portrait of everyday uncertainty ... Owens cleverly intertwines the incidental humour of everyday life with...raw, painful subjects that – like Claire’s search for fulfilment – are often too big to face.
Quick-witted and sharp-tongued, lovable and flawed, Claire is a super narrator that readers will easily connect with. Her predicaments are at once universal and unique. Owens isolates her narrator not only from the working world but also from her family, in a subplot that is traumatic and yet bizarrely funny ... The storyline is sensitively handled; Owens steers clear of melodrama, presenting instead two sympathetic sides for the reader to assess ... Not Working is a gem of a debut, a delayed coming-of-age of a woman who stops to consider life’s big questions through humour ... With her warmth and insights, Claire is a more intelligent Bridget Jones ... In the novel, the relationship between Claire and her boyfriend Luke is laugh-out-loud funny ... The convincing banter between the pair sees even their most intense arguments take a comic turn ...With her eagle eye on human behaviour, her inquisitive mind and her attraction to random trivia and detail...Claire’s ideal job should be clear to the discerning reader.
Claire is a sympathetic narrator, despite sinking under the pressure of a life that seems unfathomably frivolous to her family ... There are sharp observations about generational change, particularly on the topic of work ... The novel is a light read but it raises some timely issues ... Existential angst experienced by those finding their way in professional life is nothing new ... What is unusual about this novel is the absence of work. But, more than this, female protagonists grappling with their careers have traditionally been less well served by authors; work is usually eclipsed by romance ... This book offers a form of catharsis for anyone who has felt that they are not quite doing their job right. It may not deliver any answers, but it is soothing to find you are not the only one noodling along in your career.