Office life

Never the doctor, always the nurse: the fate of women in post-war Britain

For fans of Ysenda Maxtone Graham’s unique blend of high comedy and shrewd social observation, a new book is cause to leap on to the nearest chair and emit several loud shrieks. Jobs for the Girls is the third in the author’s trilogy on ‘lost worlds of Britain’. These are recent, touchable lost worlds, she stresses in her introduction, ‘still in living memory’, as recalled vividly – and often hilariously – by people who were there in her earlier books, Terms and Conditions, about life in girls’ boarding schools, and British Summertime Begins, on what children from all walks of life got up to in the school holidays. Jobs for

An unquiet life: There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job, by Kikuko Tsumura, reviewed

Kikuko Tsumura is a multi-prizewinning Japanese author whose mischievously deceptive new novel takes us into what purports to be the office world of Tokyo. The routine at first seems familiar, but intriguing disparities emerge: the present is also a foreign country. There’s No Such Thing as an Easy Job gives us the minutiae of everyday working life — but not as we know it. Think Diary of a Nobody without the Pooterish self-regard. Or Nicholson Baker’s Mezzanine, freed from lunchtime restrictions. A burnt-out young woman wants a job without responsibility — no stress, no demands. First up: a surveillance assignment observing a novelist suspected of receiving contraband goods. Via hidden