It’s A Man’s World – Polly Courtney

“Alexa Harris loves a challenge. So when she’s asked to head up lads’ mag, Banter, she doesn’t need much persuasion. But life on the all-male editorial team proves harder than Alexa had imagined – and not just because of her ambitious targets. As Alexa battles with a testosterone-fuelled office, she decides to play the boys at their own game. As success hits, she’s forced to look at who she has become. Has she forfeited her principles in return for praise from the lads? And what price will there be to pay?”

This book will go down as the straw that broke the author’s back. Polly Courtney started off her writing career with her self-published novel Golden Handcuffs and shortly after her next book, Poles Apart, was signed to the Avon imprint of HarperCollins. Af the launch party of this, her third book, Polly public dumped HarperCollins for branding her books as ‘chick lit’. “I’m not averse to the term chick lit,” said Courtney, “but I don’t think that’s what my book is.” From her latest offering, it’s clear why she objects to the classification.

It’s A Man’s World is a insight into the life of Alexa, whose latest work challenge is to improve the revenue stream for lads’ mag, Banter. She gets stuck in straightaway, but the sexist jokes, objectification of women and lack of respect for her gender leaves a sour taste in her mouth. As she becomes more and more determined to hit her target, her morals fall by the wayside, along with her family and friends – her boyfriend Matt breaks up with her after one cancelled date too many, and her shy friend Leonie can’t get to grips with why Alexa wants to save such a disrespectful publication. Soon, Alexa realises that all the excuses she’s been inventing to justify her position are just that – excuses – and the claims that REACT protestor Georgie Caraway are making about the sexual objectification of women begin to sink in.

Always one to cut quickly and efficiently to the heart of a novel’s themes, Polly’s excellent charactiseration and bildungsroman carry across her message perfectly. Feminism has come far, but many men still see it as acceptable to treat women as their playthings, and sexism in the office is rife today. Polly not only explores this pressing theme but also gives an insight into the dwindling print industry, media conglomerates and the widespread introduction of smartphone apps and social media into businesses today. Combined with her fast-paced writing style and realistic dialogue, It’s A Man’s World makes for an interesting and gripping read.

Many thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy.

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