Today it’s my great pleasure to be joining the blog tour for The Undercover Mother by Emma Robinson. Somewhat of a departure for me as a) I don’t kids and b) I don’t like kids. I do however like great books so was thrilled when Kim Nash of Bookouture invited me to take part in the tour. I’ll let you know my thoughts on the book in just a moment, as soon as we’ve seen what it’s all about.
About the Book
Jenny has too much on her plate: literally – she’s only expecting one child but she’s eating for at least three. Not to mention trying to juggle her nightmare boss, a know-it-all sister, and an infuriatingly laid-back husband.
She used to be known for her ‘Single Girl About Town’ column. But when her boss gives her job to a younger colleague, Jenny panics and proposes she blogs instead about being a clueless new mum. Surely people will find her new friendship group fascinating? (Even if the only thing they seem to have in common is that they all had sex around the same time 9 months ago…)
And if her readers aren’t quite hooked yet, maybe Jenny will just have to be more liberal with the truth. After all, none of the other mums will read it… will they?
The Undercover Mother is a hilarious parenting page-turner that will make you laugh, cry and want to crack open the gin. Perfect for fans of Why Mummy Drinks and The Bad Mother’s Diary.
Motherhood – a topic I know literally nothing about (thank god). I have, however, witnessed my older siblings go through the whole child rearing phase and, in fact, their children have now sprouting mini-mes and so I do have an awareness of the peculiarities of life which come from having the small, dependant person in tow. My experience with small persons came when I was nine and a half, when my first nephew was born. I vaguely recall the smelly early nappies, the rancid odours a small bottom can produce and the absolute glee they gain from peeing all over you (actually it was my brother) as you try to change their nappies. I also lived with my second sister in the early days of her child rearing terrors and so I do have a little ability to empathise with the Jenny in the story as she struggles with the transition from ‘Girl About Town’ columnist to new mother. Thankfully my experience came with a use by and hand back date, but still. Much of this book I do actually get.
The story follows new mum, Jenny, as she battles with the early days of motherhood, The fears that she is doing it all wrong, the panic that her child is not developing as quickly as others due to her failure to allow him to interact and take part in extra-curricular activities i.e. baby groups, and her inability to regain her pre-baby body as she has a preference for cake over exercise. Most of all, it is the fear that she will lose her job, her previous column already having been given to a rival. In order to avoid the naff assignments regaling the virtues of nail polish, Jenny makes a proposal to her boss – let her run a column on Motherhood. To that end she starts out with a blog, making a new group of friends she met at the ante-natal classes the subject of her attention, as well as her own inability to navigate the confusing waters of motherhood – with humorous effect.
I cannot say 100% for sure, but I am positive, from the conversations I have had with my sisters and my Nephew and his wife, that any person who has ever had, or even been near to someone who has had, a baby can find something to identify with in this book. I’ve seen it all happen, albeit from a distance, and experienced some of it for myself in terms of the fear of handling the dang things (babies) all wrong and going for the middle of the night drives to try to get said thing (baby) off to sleep. I may not have had the 24/7
burden responsibility, but I’ve been close enough, and everything I read in this book had me nodding, smiling and occasionally even laughing out loud as I pictured each of my siblings in Jenny’s place, their fears, their mistakes and their triumphs at each little milestone said thing (baby) achieved.
What Emma Robinson achieves here is a humorous look at the subject of motherhood – an almost how to and how not to guide of baby rearing and the many personalities which make up the social group of ‘The Mother”. Through Jenny’s blog, the eponymous ‘Undercover Mother’ we see the funny and yet alarmingly honest view of motherhood, almost an Adrian Mole-esque diary for the post-natal. The way in which she captures and in a way lampoons her friends and their foibles did make me chuckle, while Jenny’s personal dilemma’s, both career wise and as she managed her knowledge of her friend’s secrets, kept me entertained and engrossed from first page to last.
This is more than a simple comic take on motherhood though, examining the idea of friendship and the importance of the bond that Jenny shares with a group of women who, in all honesty, should have nothing in common. They are all so very different, all likeable in their own ways, even when they are being objectionable, and all with their own problems. I found myself invested in each and every one of their stories, intrigued by their characters and saddened by the difficulties they faced and the choices they were forced to make. Of all though, it was Ruth whose story touched me the most. Such a sad and moving story but one which left the reader with a feeling of hope at the end. Emma Robinson has done a brilliant job of creating an emotional tale without making light of her situation or bringing the story into too dark a place. A delicate balance but pulled off expertly.
If you are planning on becoming a mum, read this as you’ll realise all your fears are both founded but also manageable. You will also realise you are not alone. If you are already a mum, read this book as you will chuckle along in memory of each of these little milestones and problems you faced in your own early days, thankful it’s all behind you. If, like me, you are simply an Aunty then read this book, sit back, relax, rub your hands together and smile as you think to yourself – thank god that wasn’t me 😉
My thanks to publisher Bookouture for providing an advance copy of The Undercover Mother for review. It is available now from the following retailers:
About the Mother
She also has a blog, Motherhood for Slackers, which takes a humorous look at parenthood, and includes poems such as ‘Dear Teacher’ about her son starting school which has been shared around the world. Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.