I will confess right now that I must be the only mama at the nursery gate who hasn’t read Why Mummy Drinks.
But I could give you a long list of answers as to why THIS mummy drinks, so I think that probably qualifies me enough to follow and pass comment on the sequel.
Now after reading the sequel, Why Mummy Swears, to Gill Sims debut novel I can honestly say that I’m itching to go back to the start and read that first book.
This hilarious novel – written in diary format – was so brilliantly observed and packed with so many true-to-life incidents that I found myself nodding along and laughing out loud frequently.
I’ll admit that I found the key character of Ellen a tad difficult to identify with at first. She seemed a bit too ditzy to me – though maybe that’s how all of us mums are and we’re just too sleep deprived to realise it!
However Ellen soon became the voice of reason, the mama who was doing her best, the mama who still had ambition, the mama who wasn’t perfect and the mama who I was cheering for at every turn of a page.
I love books that are written as a diary. I just find it a little more like you’re looking through a window into someone’s real life. You can follow the passage of time through the story way easier and it just feels a bit more personal when you think you’re reading someone else’s diary – a glimpse into their inner thoughts as written down by them.
The story follows Ellen as she decides to return to work full-time after discovering her dream job. This leaves her torn between her beloved “moppets” and her career, plus her “People”-hating hubby Simon.
I really loved the observations about sexism in the workplace that Why Mummy Swears brought up.
It really is so very true, that while HR might spout a load of drivel about wanting mums to return to work, most people roll their eyes and tut every time a mum says she must leave at 5pm – the designated hour she is paid to work until anyway.
I wanted to punch the air and shout “hell yes” when Ellen finally stood her ground against her sexist work colleagues. Even through the humour of the moment, Ellen made many points that are so very true and relatable.
I loved how this book made me howl with laughter, while also being like reading my own views on life and motherhood written down for me to read.
This novel is not only a champion for women and the feminist movement, but it’s also bloody funny.
Ellen’s day-to-day life is no more exciting than mine, or any other working mama. And yet the way it is told, with the little observations on daily family life and the conflicts between characters makes it so addictive.
One of my favourite sections was when Ellen’s mother’s stepdaughter goes into labour and Ellen steps up to the plate to help her out. Hers was not an unusual labour – despite the mad dash to the hospital – and yet the comic timing, the description of what was going on and the dialogue managed to turn what is a horrendously grim experience into something truly comic.
What I found most interesting of all in the book was Ellen’s struggles with her marriage. Happily ever after is a thoroughly misleading concept.
We are led to believe that once the dream wedding has happen and the kids have arrived, that that’s it. We are meant to happy, case closed.
And yet life doesn’t work that way. Being a parent is difficult and stressful, which means that parents struggle to get on with each other amidst the rowing, the pressure and the conflicting schedules.
Ultimately, it was this line that was my absolute favourite in the entire book:
In the end I suppose that’s what marriage comes down to – finding the one special person you want to annoy and be annoyed by for the rest of your life.
This is such a simple and yet spot on observation. Married life isn’t about adoring each other all of the time, rather it’s about accepting each other’s little foibles even if they are as annoying as nails on a chalkboard.
Why Mummy Swears was like reading all about my own thoughts and struggles, but it helped me to laugh at them, which for this sweary mummy was a welcome relief.
You don’t have to have read Why Mummy Drinks to follow this story, but I thoroughly recommend that you do because it’s on my reading list now.
If you fancy a light-hearted, entertaining and totally hilarious read to enjoy by the pool this summer while the moppets are splashing about, this is the book for you!
I was sent this book as part of the Mumsnet Book Club.