The Cows is the debut adult novel by Dawn O’Porter. Dawn’s YA novel (Paper Aeroplanes) was very well received so quite rightly there is much excitement about this new release. Here is the synopsis:
A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.
Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.
Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can – though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror.
When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all.
Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.
The Cows is a powerful novel about three women – judging each other, but also themselves. In all the noise of modern life, they need to find their own voice.’ (amazon.co.uk)
I just loved this book from start to finish. With the brief synopsis, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but it definitely captured my attention and I hoped ‘not following the herd’ would mean the book would offer something different to readers.
The book is about three unconnected very distinctive women, Cam, Tara, and Stella. Cam is a successful lifestyle blogger, self-assured, living the life she wants to lead with no ties. Tara is a single mother who works as a documentary maker and is unwittingly about to be trending on twitter, and not for anything to do with work. Stella is newly single and is struggling with bereavement following the death of her twin sister, as well as her mother. Essentially the book concerns each of these women’s experience of the route to motherhood, or not, as well as exploring identity (including how motherhood is linked to this) and society’s perceptions of motherhood and what it is to be a woman in 2017.
The book also explores how we often judge ourselves and judge other people even if we don’t feel we’re that kind of person! This is all done in a bang up-to-date way, with social media playing a big part in elements of the story. There is also a surprising story line involving Tara that you just don’t see coming (no room for being prudish!); not one you’d read about every day so it was fascinating to explore this story line, but I won’t spoil it by saying more.
In books involving multiple narratives I often find myself being drawn to certain ones, or favouring certain characters, not so with this book. All three women are distinctive, three-dimensional, memorable and as a reader I felt heavily invested in all their stories. Even if I have no personal experience of some elements of their stories, I could relate to them and the actions and feelings of these characters.
For a long time, I didn’t see how the characters would be connected, but their stories are cleverly woven together in a gripping and emotional way. There will be moments when you gasp, cringe, laugh and just feel emotionally drained but in a good way, I couldn’t put it down.
These are characters that I definitely think will stay with me, and I have quite a bad memory! This book is one of the best I’ve read in quite a while, I rarely re-read books but I think this will be one that I will read again. One of those books that make you sigh when you’ve finished, because it’s finished, and you have to give the book a cuddle for being fantastic! Highly recommended.
Thanks to HarperCollins UK for the book in exchange for an honest review. Visit the other stops on Dawn O'Porter's blog tour.