In Office Hours finds two women with remarkably similar names (Stella and Bella) each falling in love with a coworker at the British oil company that employs them both. The sound-alike names could be confusing, but instead illustrate how similar the women are even though they are actually quite different. On paper, the women are definitely opposites —Stella is a business leader, well-off financially, and married with two kids; the much younger Bella dropped out of college after becoming pregnant with a drug addict’s child and has struggled ever since. And yet, both throw away their careers by romancing a colleague. For Stella, the affair is with her young subordinate who annoys her with his lackadaisical approach to life; for Bella, it is her very married new boss who she knows had an affair with her old boss. The parallels of their situations (told in alternating narration) are downright humorous at times, particularly the frantic text messages the lovers send. At times the carelessness to which they approach the affairs (Stella forgetting her earrings at the hotel is an example) seemed extraordinarily foolish, but then mistakes had to be made in order for the underlying message to come to the forefront: in workplace affairs, women are the ones to pay the price regardless of position within the company.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Grand Central Publishing.