I received this as an advance review copy, but didn’t manage to read it until a couple of weeks after it had been published. Oops!
Mums Like Us is a weekly group for ‘normal’ mums. Those who don’t manage to hold down a high-flying job, look immaculate every moment of the day, exercise before the rest of the household is up, have perfect children and throw extravagant parties for their successful husbands.
Mums Like Us is for the average mums. The ones who can barely prise their eyes open in the morning, often do the school run in their PJs, whose houses are a permanent sticky mess and who plonk their kids in front of the TV to eat their dinner while they open a bottle of wine.
Stella Smith is the Chairwoman of the group and the story is written in the form of direct addresses or emails from her to the club members, or news stories. Interspersed are emails from her husband to his brother or members of his mediochre football team of fellow dads.
There are elements of the book that I absolutely loved – the idea of ‘Mother Superiors’ – those that look down their nose at other mums who just don’t seem to cope as well as them and have as amazing a life. Those who think that your average mum just isn’t trying hard enough – and we’ve all encountered them, haven’t we? Especially at that Mother Superior hallowed ground that Stella coins the ‘Nasty Childbirth Trust’.
My experience of the NCT in Stoke Newington was one of the key elements to put me off the area completely – so hearing it coined so vehemently in this book was a wondrous feeling for me! 🙂
The idea of mums being ‘good enough’ – the Mums Like Us slogan really is something I could buy into. Just this week, I have been feeling that eternal guilt of parenthood. And The Girl is 13 years old – no little toddler. I have always had that feeling that I haven’t done the right thing for her, and I don’t think that’s any different from most mums.
So – lots of great things in the book, which were tugging at all the right strings – as well as being very funny.
However, the format just didn’t quite work for me. The form it took as a form of address just grated occasionally – it felt very unnatural. It was the same with Matt’s emails. They both revealed so much intimacy that I felt they wouldn’t really have done in ‘real’ life. It felt that what they were saying was really what they would have been thinking in their head, which was perfectly natural, but you wouldn’t share that with a roomful of people!
I also wasn’t sure of the way that Stella addresses the group as ‘lardies’ rather than ladies. many of the ‘good enough’ mums I know are stick then because they’re trying to do too much at once, so it felt a little derogatory to insinuate that mums that don’t try to hard will all be a bit porky.
Unfortunately, being within the first line of the book, it took me aback somewhat, and I’m not sure I ever really warmed to Stella completely after that.
So, unique, witty, vociferous and with a good strong message…but it just didn’t quite hit every spot for me due to the format.
I would recommend that all those ‘good enough’ mums read it though. Preferfably with a glass of wine…or two!