My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I recived an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
I’ve followed Dawn O’Porter’s career for a while now, enjoying her social media presence and the documentaries she made several years ago on taboo topics such as mail order brides and polyamory. For this reason I was intrigued when I head the premise of this book, and thought that it couldn’t be more of a Dawn O’Porter topic to write about.
The shock value of this book, which was heavily picked up in the media and was all I’d really heard about before I sat down to read it, is that it follows Tara, a single mum in her mid-30s who is filmed (without her knowledge) masturbating on what she thinks is a deserted tube train late one Friday night. The book looks at how society reacts to such a bold display of feminine sexuality and how Tara’s life is effectively ruined because of a momentary lapse in judgement.
The book also follows two other women, who are in completely different situations but are equally facing judgement from society for not “following the herd” (which kind of explains the title of the book) or rather, not taking the traditional roles expected for women. Camilla is a rich blogger, happily single and adament she does not want children, whilst Stella is dealing with the loss of her Mother and identical twin sister to cancer and the knowledge that she has an 85% chance of contracting cancer in her lifetime unless she has her breasts and womb removed.
Once I started this book I found it very hard to put down. The three plots are each as gripping as each other and intertwine in a clever way. You do have to suspend your belief a bit as quite a bit of the action is somewhat far-fetched (I’m particularly thinking about the climax of Stella’s storyline here) but once you give yourself up to the madness it’s a bonkers and completely enjoyable thrill ride.
Dawn O’Porter can write women in a way not many people can. It’s clear she’s a people person in life and understands women of all kinds. She writes mothers and child-free women with equal believability and she really has a handle on the important issues facing women today. This book has an exciting fictional plot but underneath the craziness there’s a lot of truth which should give any reader a lot of food for thought.
Given the subject matter it’s not surprising that parts of this book are quite sexually explicit. I felt that this was approached in quite an empowering way for women. All of the sex in this book is on women’s terms, for the pleasure or benefit of the woman involved.
I couldn’t have asked for anything more in a piece of women’s fiction than I got in this book. It was a bit bonkers, really entertaining and thought-provoking.
The Cows is now available in paperback edition, click below to buy a copy.