Published: 22nd April 2015
Publisher: Nero (Imprint of Schwartz Publishing Pty Ltd)
Format: Paperback courtesy of Author and Publisher
Successful hubbie? Tick. Facebook-worthy baby? Tick. Bikini-body six weeks after giving birth? Um … not so much.
Fashion PR exec Ally Bloom got her happy ending. Okay, her marriage might be showing the odd crack, her battleaxe mother-in-law might have come to stay, and she might not be the yummy mummy she’d imagined, but it’s nothing a decent night’s sleep and a firm commitment to a no-carb diet won’t fix.
But when Ally returns to work and finds she’ll be reporting to a 22-year-old airhead, she decides to turn her back on life as a professional fashionista and embrace her inner earth mama instead.
So it’s out with the Louboutins and champagne and in with the sensible flats and coffee mornings with the Mummy Mafia. From attending her first grown-up dinner party only to discover that placenta is top of the menu to controlling her monster crush on local playgroup hottie Cameron, Ally must find her feet in the brave new world of the stay-at-home mum.
Disclaimer: I’m not a mum, but I still really enjoyed this book.
Don’t let the title fool you, you don’t need to be a mum to read and love this book. I’m not and while it didn’t rate as a 5 star read for me, it was still a fantastic book that was well written, entertaining, and with just the right balance of seriousness and humour that made me love the story, and the characters even more so. To be honest I read 90% of this book in one sitting in the bath because it was so good I didn’t want to put the book down or leave the characters just yet.
Ally Bloom lives and breathes the high fashion life as a PR executive at Moda, a prestigious fashion label in Sydney. She has the perfect husband Matt and her wedding was not only featured in NAME magazine, but it was given SIX page spread. So when she falls pregnant she’s ecstatic and quickly starts to envision her maternity leave as a holiday away from work; it’s got to be a walk in the park compared to her job after all.
What I loved about this book was the way Georgia wrote her character Ally. Ally Bloom doesn’t start out like a very likeable character and may not be every readers cup of tea. She’s self centred and totally bewildered by Motherhood (which many a new mums, read all, would naturally be), but her humour and honesty is her one saving grace. Having to swap top of the range designer clothes for ‘trackie’ pants and often dirty comfort clothing is hard for her and she mourns the loss of the clothes in her cupboard that she can no longer fit into her. In fact she resents this new lifestyle thrust upon her and can’t wait for the day for her darling daughter Coco turns 18, because after all that’s when fun interesting things start to happen. At times it’s this misplaced resentment and hostility to change that can/could turn readers away from liking Ally.
From very early on in the book I was conflicted about her, for on one hand she was this funny, funky, stylish almost-but-not-quite-diva who is used to getting her way and having minions to do her ‘dirty’ jobs for her. She lives the perfect life that one could only dream of attaining. She’s even penned her own hashtag, #FashMum to share all her yummy mummy snaps on Instagram, because failure is not a thought she has ever entertained. But it’s one she is going to come to face very quickly.
“I just wished he wouldn’t make me feel like such a complete failure every time we went anywhere near the subject. Sometimes it felt like he thought Coco would be in better hands with anyone other than me…”
Then on the other hand we have the reality of life after she gives birth, where her dreams of a year long relaxing sabbatical have just been shattered into a thousand tiny pieces, all of which reflect an over weight, unhappy bewildered 31 year-old who doesn’t know how she got here or how to get out of there. One who doubts her very place, and her partners love and respect. Ally’s belief that she needs to be perfect in every aspect of her life is her downfall, and the readers entertainment as we watch Ally try and take her place along side ‘stepford like’ “Yummy Mummies’ to prove that she is just as great a mum, or perhaps even better. Although I originally found this contrast and hostility in Ally off putting, I came to love Ally’s character for who she was, flaws and all, just as she does. For the one thing she holds more dear is her daughter Coco, who she will stand up and fight for her with every last breath in her body, even if it means sitting “in a dirt school hall, surrounded by twenty badly dressed mums and their snotty-nosed kids… pretending to be having the time of our lives”. So if you hate Ally at the beginning, keep reading. Trust me, you’ll love her by the end!
It’s here that I want to congratulate Madden on her ability to transforms a character who hates her life and is potentially suffering from post natal depression, not that she’d ever admit to that for her family viewed “depression [as being] just a polite way of saying ‘complete and utter loser'”, into one who fully embraces her new position and yet never loses any of her style (even if her clothes still don’t fit), or sense of self (for she knows what she most definitely isn’t), for Ally remains true to her core as the sarcastic and smart mouthed, natural born leader – even if she has to rediscover these things for herself along the way. I also want to congratulate Madden on the way she expertly balanced the light and often entertaining aspects of this narrative (think poo explosions, disastrous play dates, bitchy mummies, hoity toity judgement and general know it alls, and the experience of her first grown up dinner party and #hotdad crushes) with the more serious comments and social commentary that peak out from page to page.
Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum is a quirky take on the everyday struggles of modern motherhood in the current obsessed social networking world where every play date and tea party must be shared on instagram to be deemed a success. All though snort inducing funny at times thanks to Madden and Ally Blooms sarcasm and endless witty comebacks, it has a more serious side when dealing with the double edge sword of motherhood where your ever move is judged as a parenting success or a failure that you may never live down. I may not have experienced motherhood yet, but I feel like this book is realistic enough still, for it captures the best and worst parts of being a new mum and showcases it clearly for both sides (mothers and not-yet-mothers) to see, understand and appreciate and perhaps to relieve.
Confessions Of A Once Fashionable Mum is a highly enjoyable read that reads like The Devil Wears Prada, but with dirty nappies and Happy Mummies groupies and the odd piece of fashion advice.
**Georgia Madden agreed to take part in my Let’s Talk Books... feature and her answers can be read here.**
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To purchase a copy of Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum visit the following retailers:
Angus & Robertson | Amazon AU | Amazon US | Boomerang Books | Booktopia | Bookworld | Fishpond | Jb Hi-Fi Books | Penguin Books Australia | The Nile | Worderly |