My books have just arrived! NHYM 2017.
The Book Bag Book Review of The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land:
‘Intelligent, thought-provoking fiction that you want to keep reading.’
‘To say that Sophie Bennett didn’t want to move to London is something of an understatement. She’s a shy person who doesn’t make friends easily and the thought of losing all her support systems and having to start again fills her with dread. But, husband Michael has been offered a big job on London’s RailLink project and it’s not a chance he can turn down – even if he wanted to, and he doesn’t. So before long their three-year old daughter, Kaya, has been left with Sophie’s parents and Michael and Sophie have found a flat in west London and they’ve even, against all the odds, managed to secure a place for Kaya at London’s most exclusive nursery school. Well, when I say that they managed to secure the place, I actually mean that they required the services of a nursery consultant, who has a double-barrelled name and a friendship with the headmistress.
Sophie’s willing to try to make a go of it (it’s only for three years, after all) but the first morning’s drop off at Cherry Blossoms shows what she’s up against. It’s all celebrities, supermodels bodyguards, top end cars and power dressing. Sophie has never felt so out of place and can barely get a word of acknowledgement out of any of the mothers and all thoughts of the friendships she’d been hoping for drained away. She’s definitely a beta mum in a herd of alphas. To make matters worse, Michael has turned into a workaholic, coming home late each night and often working at weekends. Kaya’s not settling that well at nursery and getting playdates for her with the children of the rich and famous is difficult, particularly when the staff there assume that you’ve come to apply for a housekeeper’s job. Desperate for an outlet, Sophie starts a blog.
I knew I was in for a treat as soon as I started reading: this is fiction for the thinking woman. Don’t be misled by the presence of celebrities and the super-rich: they have to live somewhere: why not near you? Isabella Davidson takes a sensitive and sympathetic look at issues facing us in the 21st century. In an age when everyoneseems to have hundreds of best friends and a wonderful life, how do you cope when you feel like a fish out of water? When you’re lonely? When you’re looking after a young child, but there seems to be no one to give you any support? When the only other adult you can talk to thinks you shouldn’t disturb him when he’s at work?
There’s a thought-provoking look at wealth. Sophie and Michael are well off. Michael’s job is well paid and the company is covering some of their expenses. Sophie would like to work, but doesn’t need to. By most people’s standards that’s rich, but by Cherry Blossom standards the Bennets are at the bottom of the scale. They’re never obviously judged on the basis of their net worth: they’re just judged. But when you dig deeper there are divisions within the super-rich: some hedge funds have never quite recovered from the financial crash, but the wives don’t moderate their spending to compensate.Then there’s the fact that money can’t guarantee safety. And even at Michael’s level there’s the problem of trying to get some work/life balance that might actually allow you to see your family every now and then. OK, they’re first world problems, but that doesn’t make them any less real.
As a blogger myself the most intriguing thread was about Sophie’s blog. Isabella Davidson (she blogs as Notting Hill Yummy Mummy) catches the feeling completely. There’s the obsession with followers and page views and that sense of being anonymous and being able to say what you like without there being any redress. At one point I think I stopped breathing because I was so worried for Sophie, particularly as she learned the valuable lesson that you should never press ‘send’ when you’ve had too much to drink.
You’ll have realised that I completely bought into Sophie. I wanted to give her a hug. It’s a couple of days since I finished the book, but I keep wondering how she’s getting on. She’s not alone though – all the characters come off the page and into your life. It’s a great story too: I read it in a couple of sittings. It would have been one, but work was particularly demanding! I’d like to thank the author for sending a copy to the Bookbag.’
For other reviews, check out Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34030549-the-beta-mum-adventures-in-alpha-land