Careering
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Careering

Daisy Buchanan

careering (verb)
1. working endlessly for a job you used to love and now resent entirely
2. moving in a way that feels out of control


There’s a fine line between on the right track and coming off the rails.

Imogen has always dreamed of writing for a magazine. Infinite internships later, Imogen dreams of any job. Writing her blog around double shifts at the pub is neither fulfilling her creatively nor paying the bills.

Harri might just be Imogen’s fairy godmother. She’s moving from the glossy pages of Panache magazine to launch a fierce feminist site, The Know. And she thinks Imogen’s most outrageous sexual content will help generate the clicks she needs.

But neither woman is aware of the crucial thing they have in common. Harri, at the other end of her career, has also been bitten and betrayed by the industry she has given herself to. Will she wake up to the way she’s being exploited before her protege realises that not everything is copy? Can either woman reconcile their love for work with the fact that work will never love them back? Or is a chaotic rebellion calling…

Hilarious and unflinchingly honest, Careering takes a hard look at the often toxic relationship working women have with their dream jobs.

Review

Careering, the second novel from author and journalist Daisy Buchanan, is an ode to any woman – or any person, really – who has ever felt overwhelmed by a seemingly cavernous divide between their ‘dream’ career and their reality. Buchanan’s two protagonists, Imogen and Harri, represent women at different stages of their lives and careers but are united by their struggles to climb the ranks of the UK media industry without sacrificing too much of themselves in the process. Twenty-six-year-old Imogen works two minimum-wage jobs and writes a semi-popular sex blog alongside her internship at Panache Magazine, where Harri – a media veteran in her forties – is the acting editor-in-chief. When Harri gets passed over for a promotion to permanent editor and is instead tasked with setting up an online magazine for millennials, she hires Imogen as a staff writer. What at first seems like a dream job for Imogen and an exciting, albeit initially unwanted, professional challenge for Harri soon proves itself to be much more complicated, as self-doubt and the pressures of a changing media industry cause them each to begin to lose sight of what they once loved about writing and editing.

Personally, I found Imogen’s character to be the most compelling aspect of Careering, and I expect this will be the same for many readers – particularly those of us in our twenties. Through Imogen, Buchanan explores how class and privilege affect the contemporary job market, as well as the unrealistic expectations faced by millennial women, in impressively vivid and bracingly relatable ways. Reading Imogen’s chapters, I was reminded of Sally Rooney’s recent bestseller Beautiful World, Where Are You?, and Careering’s blend of incisive social commentary and entertaining storytelling will strike a chord with fans of not only Rooney, but also authors such as Dolly Alderton and Marian Keyes.

Interweaving themes of class, sex, misogyny, identity, youth, and family, Careering paints a refreshingly candid portrait of a certain kind of 21st-century woman, yet does so by deconstructing our perception of what that identity really means. Upon finishing this book, I immediately wanted to recommend it to every friend who has ever confided in me about a difficult boss or career-related uncertainty. If that’s not proof that Buchanan has done something right, then I don’t know what is.


Olivia Hurley is a bookseller at Readings St Kilda.

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