In her first novel, Who Moved My BlackBerry?, the FT’s popular management columnist Lucy Kellaway did a brilliant job of satirizing the absurdities of modern-day corporate life with her hilarious account of Martin Lukes’ frantic attempts to save his family and career. No management cliché is left unturned as Lukes spews out his “learnings” in a raging torrent of emails and messages laced with new age gibberish.
With In Office Hours Kellaway delves even deeper into the corporate hothouse, this time exploring the murky world of office affairs. Set in the London HQ of a global oil major called Atlantic Energy, the book recounts the exploits of exploits of two female protagonists at opposite ends of the career pole as they unwisely throw themselves into liaisons with totally unsuitable colleagues.
On the surface, it might seem surprising that a high flying executive on the verge of promotion to the boardroom should risk her career and marriage for a fresh young trainee who has just joined the company, but the author’s depiction of how the relationship blossoms is quite convincing and natural. So too is her portrayal of Personal Assistant Bella Chamber’s affair with her married boss, even if this is a much more stereotypical scenario than Stella’s.
Naturally both affairs ultimately end in tears, but along the way we are treated to some wry observations of the contradictions of modern corporate life and the irrational behavior that it can engender in people.
In Office Hours is not as uproariously funny as Who Moved My BlackBerry?, but it seems somehow to be a lot wittier and wiser. Definitely one for the reading list.