Almost everyone I know has loved this book. They’ve raved about it. So I expected to like (or at least, to relate to) this book more than I did.
It’s not the sort of book I’d usually read and I hadn’t requested it for review, but a friend of mine bought it and asked if I wanted to borrow it. Despite my hefty TBR pile I said yes and spent a bit of time with it on a lazy Sunday afternoon.The Mummy Bloggers
by Holly Wainwright
Published by Allen & Unwin
on September 1st 2017
Meet three Mummy Bloggers - each of them followed, idolised, imitated, taunted and trolled online.
Elle Campbell is a glossy, lycra-clad mum with washboard abs, a ten-year plan and a secret past. Abi Black has quit sugar, moved to the country and is homeschooling her kids. Leisel Adams slogs away at her office job each day before rushing home, steeped in guilt, to spend precious moments with her kids before bedtime.
When all three women are nominated for a prestigious blogging award with a hefty cash prize, the scene is set for a brutal and often hilarious battle for hearts, minds-and clicks. As the awards night gets closer, their lies get bigger, their stunts get crazier - and some mistakes from the past become harder and harder to hide.
My friend – whose reading taste is similar to my own – didn’t really enjoy it she said. She only liked one of the (three) main characters / bloggers in the book. Now that I’ve read the novel I think it’s pretty obvious who that is and think most of the book is slanted sympathetically towards Leisel (the working mum) and obviously Wainwright (who works in digital entertainment) knows that character’s industry better than most.
I thought this book would appeal to me more than it did my friend because I blog. Because I ‘get’ that world and all of its intricacies. I’d get the ‘in’ jokes, the not-so-sly references to popular bloggers and relate to the not-entirely-real-life (we) bloggers and big users of social media portray to the world.
For me however, the characters were a bit too caricatured. I mean, I know they’re meant to be but I struggled to care about them at all. And – though the disclaimer suggests any similarity to ACTUAL people is coincidental – much of it is plucked off hate sites and from the real world, it didn’t really offer up anything new: devil-may-care (world hating) Divas or Queens; fake cancer scares; anti-immunisation peeps; overly curated social media feeds of fake lives; and the working mum vs stay at home mum war. (Oh and the one blogger runs off with another blogger’s husband bit thrown in as well…. cos I do recall reading about that on ‘GOMI’ – the aforementioned ‘hate’ site though didn’t know any of the players.)
That’s not to say I hated the book, more that it just didn’t interest me. I suspect that’s a lot to do with me. I don’t really read mummy / daddy / parenting blogs anyway, as I’m not one. I’m pretty blunt in my personal blogs and am sure some of my friends and family think I overshare on my blog and social media, but I think carefully about what I do share. So I’m not a ‘warts ‘n’ all’ blogger. I try to be authentic. I try to provide impartial and honest book reviews and share stuff playing on my mind – without stepping over my own personal boundaries. And perhaps it’s because I play in this world but don’t really live in it that I wasn’t hugely drawn into the plot.
I suspect bloggers will enjoy it more than non-bloggers. And I suspect it has a ready-made audience, thanks to bloggers and Mamma Mia (website, where Wainwright works / worked) readers and the like.
It’s certainly entertaining and perhaps eye-opening to those not dabbling in the online world.
The Mummy Bloggers by Holly Wainwright was published in Australia by Allen & Unwin and is now available.