Author: Georgia Madden
Confessions of a Once Fashionable Mum is a book that has left me in two minds. The premise is fantastic, it’s well written, it’s funny, it’s snarky and I enjoyed it BUT I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the characters and that did affect my enjoyment a little. Having said that, I think it may actually be more about me than anything else because I was a bit the same with my other weekend read.
Ally is a first time mum and things aren’t going quite the way she expected, she’s suffering mild depression and is quite isolated with a very limited support network. Her doctor suggests finding a local mother’s group, making some new friends and seeing how she goes.
Motherhood hasn’t quite been what Ally was expecting and until Coco her life largely revolved around the high maintenance, fast paced world of fashion, so there isn’t anyone in her life that she can really share the experience with; certainly no-one who would understand.
I am not a first time mum but I am a first time at home mum who has just started at Kindergym and is coming in contact with a lot of other mums in a way that I never experienced with my other children. So from this perspective I could really relate to where Ally is at. Fortunately for me I have a circle of friends who have children so I have never been without that support network, which is something PR exec Ally Bloom was lacking.
Ally’s maternity leave plans revolved around hitting the best coffee shops in the area looking fabulous in her pre-baby body and becoming the ultimate yummy mummy before returning to work, she went so far as to pick a replacement she had no faith in to ensure she was missed and they would be dying to have her back at work. Well, like every mother would know, the plans and the reality were worlds apart. Even as a third time mum my plans and the reality of life with a baby were very different.
I could understand a lot of what Ally was feeling but I wasn’t very sympathetic, and I’m struggling to articulate why.
Ally’s first attempt at the local mother’s group Happy Mummies Time did not go well. She was very much out of her depth and first impressions were not favorable by anyone’s account. Not one to give up she decides to stick it out and formulates a plan of attack to become accepted into the Happy Mummies Time group and embrace stay at home motherhood, it helps that she’s trying to distance herself from home a little.
In a misguided attempt at helping Ally find her feet husband Matt invites his mother to stay with them, not the surprise Ally was expecting. Ally and Judy have never gotten along, Ally feeling like she is never going to be good enough for Matt in his mother’s eyes. This ‘surprise’ illustrates the cracks that are beginning to appear for this loved up Sydney power couple.
There is a lot to love about this book and I’m sure most mothers will be able to relate. I think one of the things I love the most is the way that Ally slowly becomes one of the Happy Mummies, without even realising it. These women who all seem so very different start to become friends and it isn’t until her two lives collide that Ally even realises it. Ally’s evolution is a gradual process and it takes almost losing everything for her to realise what’s really important, and that’s something I think we have all experienced at one time or another in some way.
The other thing I really love is the way we only know the characters from Ally’s perspective so we see what’s on the surface but over time we learn that all of these mums share some similar insecurities and there is much more to their lives than you ever see socially. It’s a great reminder that we all have our own battle scars, and you never know what someone is facing so don’t judge what you don’t understand.
Madden explores motherhood in a way that is entertaining and entirely realistic. It is relatable on many levels and even though Ally’s world of fashion and PR is alien to most of us we can appreciate the feeling of walking into a mother’s group and feeling like you have nothing in common with these women, except that you are all mothers. I think that’s the beauty of it, at first glance that’s the only similarity but given time you will find that you share a lot more than that.
Confessions is a great read for mums, I would recommend it to anyone feeling a little alone in their journey as a great reminder that you are never the only one feeling that way and even those who seem to have it all are battling something behind the scenes. I am interested to see what Madden comes up with next.
Confessions of a once Fashionable Mum is Book #15 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge.
Available April 27th through Nero Books and where all good books are sold.