When it comes to the clichés of modern womanhood, author Rachel Pastan doesn’t so much tell her stories tongue-in-cheek as give her readers a hearty Bronx cheer. Her last novel, This Side of Married, was a witty take on the familiar tale of a mother desperately trying to marry off her daughters. Pastan’s latest, Lady of the Snakes, examines the difficulty of balancing one’s ambitions while maintaining familial bliss. Snakes’ heroine is 25-year-old wife, mother, and Ph.D student Jane Levitsky, who—after making a breakthrough discovery—gets the chance to make a name for herself in academia but may have to make sacrifices on the domestic front. Pastan, herself a teacher at Swarthmore College, intersperses biting depictions of tenured professors and eager Ph.D cohorts with genuine moments of self-discovery. Thinks Jane to herself after the birth of her child: “This is what women’s lives are like.” Pastan discusses and signs copies of her work at 5 p.m. at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919.