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Half a Wife: The Working Family's Guide to Getting a Life Back [Paperback]

Gaby Hinsliff
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

5 Jan 2012

For most families, it remains the ultimate dilemma: how to balance a happy, healthy family life with the demands and rewards of work. When Gaby Hinsliff realised that she couldn't continue to work 60-hour weeks, spend time with her child and expect to stay happily married, there was only one solution. She quit, and decided to start again from scratch.

Half a Wife tells the story of that leap into the dark and proposes positive, practical solutions for piecing together what at times can seem like an impossible jigsaw. It encourages working parents to rethink traditional set ups - at home, at work, in relationships - to the mutual benefit of the whole family. The result? A much more egalitarian family life, where both partners can work if they want to, both share the care and both get back a little bit of a life as a result.

Based on personal experience but also drawing on new thinking from politics, psychology, anthropology and even architecture, Half a Wife is a guide for guilt-torn parents who are teetering on the edge, but it is also a wake-up call to opinion leaders. It is essential - and uplifting - reading for anyone who feels the visceral pull of home, but also the lure of meaningful work.

'A wonderfully sane and helpful book. Better than Calpol. I only wish it had been around when I became a mother. Gaby Hinsliff has written an invaluable guide for any parent struggling to reconcile their twin

passions for their children and their work.' Allison Pearson, author of I Don't Know How She Does It

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Chatto & Windus (5 Jan 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0701185988
  • ISBN-13: 978-0701185985
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 329,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description



A wonderfully sane and helpful book. Better than Calpol. I only wish it had been around when I became a mother. Gaby Hinsliff has written an invaluable guide for any parent struggling to reconcile their twin

passions for their children and their work.

" (Allison Pearson, author of I Don't Know How She Does It)

"This is no dummy's guide to Calpol and yummy-mummyhood, but a serious-minded study of the hoary old chestnut of cracking the work-life balance. It's a book that not only manages to break new ground but also throws up some intriguingly different solutions ... Some of what Hinsliff calls for will never happen, but much of it is all too feasible. Politicians should take note: politics is personal; get it right for families and business, and Downing Street will beckon. Hinsliff, after all, wasn't a political editor for nothing." (Eleanor Mills Sunday Times)

"Half a Wife is important ... Why should we all have an awful time just because that's the way it's always been? Why shouldn't we see our children and also pursue some sort of intellectual life? We can be happy, says Hinsliff, if we just try. She's not very British about it. And thank God for that." (Esther Walker Evening Standard)

"Hinsliff's ideas for how working parents should proceed are provactive and good...It had me wanting to go for a coffee with her. As she points out, Wi-Fi and the BlackBerry are as revolutionary to working women as the pill...a wholly supportive blueprint for any harassed parent thinking about working from home or currently doing so...this is a book for our age." (Rosie Millard Observer)

"It offers a depth of understanding and empathy that working women are crying out for ... Hinsliff highlights precisely the difficulties, not to mention the absurdities, of the daily Ovidian transformation from world-saving, war-crying boardroom battleaxe to beatific, nappy-changing nursery playmate." (Harriet Walker Independent)

Book Description

How one highflyer completely rethought her work and family life, and what doing it differently could mean for parents everywhere.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book, could change the way you think 10 Jan 2012
By Antonia Chitty VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Do you recall Gaby Hinsliff as political editor of the Observer? Her thoughtful well researched features always caught my eye and I've enjoyed some articles from her blog, Used to be Somebody. Now, she has taken her experiences of life as a working mum, her experiences of finding different ways to work, and turned them in to a thoughtful and in depth book. I love the title. At home I often say that I need a wife too, someone who doesn't mind focussing on the household admin and domestic chores.

I wouldn't read this if you're looking for a quick fix to the trials of working parenthood: perhaps there isn't one. Do read it if you want your ways of thinking to be challenged, to discover interesting research on family dynamics, plus to get some fascinating insights into how Hinsliff has come up with a work/life balance that suits her.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but not quite what I was expecting 16 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As a new parent, I was enticed by the cover of this book. I was hoping to find some ideas that might be helpful when my partner returns to work but this wasn't really the case.

The book is well-written and an interesting read. There are lots of good ideas but these are more aimed at companies and the government, not the average family.

Overall, this was interesting but offered no real solutions.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. Stuart Bruce TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This isn't the book that the cover suggests. First and foremost, it's not a 'guide'. It's an extended and well-researched study into the work/life balance of the modern British family in current society, but if like me you're part of a new family and looking for advice about how to strike the right balance between family and personal finance and career, you might not find as much in here as the cover blurb suggests.

The first half of the book gathers together, in a very readable way, lots of recent information and personal accounts of how the modern family operates- how common one-parent families are, the positives and negatives of being a working Dad or a working Mum, the way in which employers currently look at new parents, how people struggle with not having enough hours in the day, and more. It's thought-provoking to a new parent like myself, and admirably candid- despite being described as "uplifting" on the back cover, it doesn't pull any punches with some of the less optimistic statistics that are out there.

The second half of the book wanders off-course. Hinsliff is the ex-political editor of the Observer and it shows in two negative ways here.

Firstly, she is assuredly a 'high-flyer' compared to most of the people that might read this book, and what may be intended as advice to the reader begins to come across as indulgent autobiographical reminiscing. If your wage is in the higher tax bracket and you can afford a nanny, maybe you'll disagree, but I didn't find any real 'working class' (or even 'lower middle-class') advice here, and instead of feeling solidarity, I ended up feeling resentful of how Hinsliff's previous success allowed her the luxury of being able to change her career and relocate on a whim.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To Quit or Not to Quit - That is the Question 18 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
With today's culture, work demands can be pretty hard going, whether you just work as a means to an end, or you are ambitious and want to successfully climb up the corporate ladder - but what if happens when, as a woman, you marry and want kids? You can't carry on working a 60 hour week, even if it's your heart's desire - priorities change and babies are just as demanding as bosses/spouses. Something's got to give, but what? Why can't we have it all? Does a mother's career really have to suffer, or will traditional family values just be a thing of the past? Does that even matter to you? Let's not forget your other half - the husband/partner - everyone, it would seem, needs a piece of you - but do you have enough to go around?

This is the sort of dilemma Gaby Hinsliff (and thousands of women) have to face - as guilt ridden parents wanting to make everyone happy, including themselves-- the basis for `Half a Wife: The Working Family's Guide for Getting a Life Back'. Gaby explains how we can get what we need, whilst thinking outside the traditional home/work/family balance set up by negotiating the hours we want more effectively, and dealing with the inevitable resistance to using our working time differently. She shares how to plan careers more intelligently from the outset, without sacrificing future pay rises - especially around the ages children head off to college/work themselves.

Further on into the book, Gaby looks into what both employers and governments can do to create a genuine market for flexible jobs, which work to everyone's advantage and how it is possible to turn your back on the rat race of corporate life and raise healthy, happy kids AND keep your career on the right track.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beware: you will be liable to re-think everything 1 April 2012
By Dr. K. E. Patrick TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I titled my review "you will be liable to re-think everything", though let me be clear that I do not mean this in a bad way.

Gaby Hinsliff's books is extremely thought-provoking, and whether you're a working-for-pay mum or a working-really-hard-at-home-without-pay mum, I think the book will probably have you re-assessing why you do what you do, how you do what you do, and whether or not you should change what you do.

More than that, though, it's a refreshing book especially in terms of having the father re-think his role, too. Hinsliff has done a good job at looking where the law is skewed against dads wanting to have more time with their children, as well as where families can fall into the frustrating situation of one partner (usually mum) staying home and dad just working all the harder away from home, with subtle messages that can cause division and resentment.

I happen to be a stay-at-home-mum partly because going to work just wasn't going to cover my childcare bills, and though I have some of the wistfulness about "something more" that Hinsliff captures so well in this exploration of modern family life, I have reassessed in light of her book and still come to the conclusion that my time with the children is incredibly precious and, in the grand scheme of things, short-lived.

Never the less, I am extremely grateful that Hinsliff's book has overturned a great many rocks for me, and has allowed me to examine what's underneath them.

Finally, I think this book would be excellent reading for a) husbands (as it explains that sometimes inexpressible friction that women often feel when shouldering the childcare and house management burden as well as their paid employment), b) teenagers and young people (so they can be -- perhaps -- a bit better prepared for the "real world"), and c) politicians, especially Government ministers (so they can be ... ahem ... a bit better prepared for the "real world").
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars I really interesting read
I have read similar books however I found this an easy read and by setting out the benefits for everyone of finding 'wife time' its made me think a little more creatively about... Read more
Published 5 months ago by A. Woznitza
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
Really helpful book about how a couple, TOGETHER, can try and solve the problem of parenting whilst working - and also what the government can do to support them.
Published 7 months ago by Miss C. L. Shaw
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what it says on the tin
My expectation was for a book that offered pointers for parents who, finding their lives somewhat derailed, wanted to get back to a more ordered existence. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Ray Blake
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me
I do feel this book comes at the discussion from the point of view of someone in a very specific situation. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Saffron Monsoon
4.0 out of 5 stars A heartfelt plea - and some solace
Gaby Hinsliff has managed to pull off an enviable escape from a working life that became unworkable with a small child and kept her hand in the game with a book that was bound to... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Kindle Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Misleading title, it's no guide
This book is no guide. What was once perhaps an interesting article, was turned into a book by adding a lot of pages without adding any value. Read more
Published 21 months ago by SGK
5.0 out of 5 stars Sharing your life ... understood
It's nice to read a book that understands the difficulties faced by any family and especially about pulling in different directions. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Ross Boardman
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe not realistic for many familes, but well worth a read
This book does change the way you think about time and family life, and that fresh perspective is refreshing. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A treasure of a book
What a great book - a "must read" for every working family, especially those who are struggling somewhat to find a balance between work and personal life. Read more
Published on 15 May 2012 by A customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Love it!
I am reading this book and absolutely love it. I left my job with a large company having had my first child in 2010, and am now working for myself and this book really rang true... Read more
Published on 30 April 2012 by natski
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