Techbitch by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza
|Techbitch by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Zoe Morris|
|Summary: Are you a techvirgin or a techbitch? It’s serene experience vs. boisterous, bitchy youth in this fab fashion fable that will make you very much #teamImogen|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 448||Date: June 2015|
Imogen Tate (Editor in Chief, fashionista, all round legend) is back after an extended break for health reasons. Back at her desk at Glossy magazine, back in charge of the magazine and the team she’s spent years building and nurturing. Except she’s not. Things have changed a little while she’s been off. Her former assistant has sprung up the ranks and is now running the show. And it’s a show that’s now moved on, had its interval, and started its second act. Print and permanent are out, tech and temporary are in. The world has changed, the magazine’s going online and the old ways of working are just like Imogen – old. Forget trying to thrive, her new goal now is simply to survive in the arena she once loved and was happy to call home.
The book is special for the way it subtly weaves in tech explanations, ostensibly for Imogen’s benefit, but also for the reader’s. Some you may already be familiar with, but others are a little more niche. Just before I reached the final chapter, I sat in a meeting where the phrases traffic and conversion rate were bandied around and I couldn’t help thinking that the older generation in the room might be struggling to keep up. Such is the Techbitch life.
It’s not just about the technology, though. Nothing ever is. The old rules still apply – it’s who you know, not just what, and relationships are still the most important thing. Imogen is used to juggling designers and stylists and make-up artists and models, and of course those things are still important because even online the clothes won’t make, style or photograph themselves, but what Imogen is woefully unprepared for is the drama within the office itself, the culture change that has shunted in while she’s been off. We’ve all had hideous colleagues at one time or another, I’m sure. I once had someone use the phrase, on being introduced to me for the first time, How old ARE you? 12? (I was 22). But even that is nothing compared to the evil eyes of Eve. This is a girl who weighs her staff in public, makes them pull all-nighters every night, dictates what they wear, what they eat, even which gym classes they go to. There are some things that a Harvard MBA can’t teach, such as morals, social graces and how to read a room. This girl has no perceivable limits, and while her dedication to the cause is admirable, she repeatedly goes about things in the wrong way, with hideous consequences.
It’s all a bit much for Imogen. While she’s learning a whole new language of social media, she’s also juggling problems at her daughter’s school and trying to keep an unruly ex-boyfriend at bay. At least her marriage is stable. I was so glad about this. Not every book needs to have a successful woman either being cheated on or cheating herself, either being traded in for a younger model or living in the shadow of her husband’s role. Imogen and Alex are partners, equals, supportive of each other but not wholly dependant on the other person and I liked that. I also liked that she could, occasionally, use him to get what she needs as I do the same, though my getting the Boy to do me some A3 printing for a work project can hardly be compared to her name dropping to get out of legal trouble…
There was nothing I disliked about Imogen and I found myself rooting for her from the first page where we see her back in the day as a young associate editor, fresh off the boat from London. She was one of the most likable leads I’ve read in a long time and given the chance to work under her tutelage, I would certainly not squander the opportunity as Eve did. It might just be me, but she also never really seemed that old. Competent, yes. Experienced, yes. Nice, funny and efficient, certainly, but not old. I know I’m lucky that I tend to be one of the younger ones in the room at work events, and I’m not in an industry where Techbitches are prevalent, but not for one second did I doubt that in certain fields, a set of Eve clones are already running around (and perhaps even running) the likes of New York and London. It’s a scary thought but this book did a great job of raising the issue, and showing you how to battle them back down to under your thumb if needed. Brilliant.
I’d like to thank the publishers for sending us a copy to review. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was so, so satisfied by the ending. Two perky, well-manicured thumbs up.
This is a reverse The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger because in this story we see the wizened leader battled down by the evil assistant, rather than vice versa, but it will surely appeal to fans of the hit book from a few years ago. And, while it’s a bit out there, Sheila Levine Is Dead and Living in New York by Gail Parent is also worth a look if you fancy losing yourself in NYC for a little longer.
You can read more book reviews or buy Techbitch by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza at Amazon.com.
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