Poppy’s world has tipped sideways: the husband who never wanted children has betrayed her with her broody best friend.
At least Annalise is on her side. Poppy’s new friend is determined to celebrate their freedom from kids so together they create a Facebook group to meet up with like-minded women, and perhaps vent a little about smug mums and their privileges at work. Meanwhile Frankie would love a night out, away from her darlings – she’s not had one in years – and she’s sick of being judged by women at the office and stay-at-home mums.
When Poppy and Annalise’s group takes off and frustrated members start confronting mums like Frankie in the real world. Cafes become battlegrounds, playgrounds become war zones and offices have never been so divided. A rivalry that was once harmless fun is spiralling out of control. Because one of their members is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. And she has an agenda of her own .
I love the Moriarty sisters (they even have their own shelf on my GoodReads page!). They all have their own distinct voice and style of writing, yet they complement one another well. While Nicola’s writing is probably closer to that of Liane’s than Jaclyn’s, it shares the whimsy that permeates Jaclyn’s writing.
I did enjoy the fact that first and foremost, this is a story about women. It’s about the ways in which women build each other up, and tear each other down. We create these relationships and networks and can pull each other up, but we also judge one another harshly for not living up to our own expectations (when we all prioritise things differently!). I also liked that Nicola managed to capture the fact that, while the Internet is basically where human decency goes to die, it’s also where some magical things can happen.
It’s been great to see Nicola’s growth as a writer since her debut, Free-Falling. She’s always been great at characterisation and dialogue, but I definitely feel like she gets even better with every book. She managed to create characters who were realistic – who weren’t always likeable, but who you rooted for anyway; who felt like a friend or a co-worker. They were perfectly shaded with bits of grey, but never seemed to grate on me (a criticism that I had with her earlier work). The book opens on Poppy discovering that her husband has cheated on her with her (now-pregnant) best friend, and while I’m not sure that it worked as an opening scene, it does make you feel sympathetic towards Poppy and establish characterisation quickly.
Being from the area that the story is set, it was nice to be able to visualise everything as I was reading. The setting kind of hang around in the background, present but not overwhelming. The book is well-paced, although perhaps a little slow in the beginning, and while I did figure out who the double agent was fairly quickly, I did not see Annalise’s back story coming. Without giving anything away, I would’ve liked to see the heavier aspects of the story to have a little depth added to them, as they seemed to be handled a little quickly and wrapped up neatly. They didn’t really seem to impact the characters and I never felt like there was any risk for them. The ending was a little treacly, but I appreciated the overall message it sent – we’re all doing our best, and we should hold each other up and celebrate our differences, rather than hold one another to an impossible set of standards.
All in all, a quick read that most Liane Moriarty fans would enjoy.