Jeff Popple reviews five great books for Mum this Mother’s Day. More of Jeff’s reviews can be found on his blog murdermayhemandlongdogs.com
1 The Juggle by Steph Adams and Samantha Brett
This inspiring book makes an ideal present for professional mums this Mother’s Day. In this beautifully presented anthology, the editors interview some of Australia’s most high-profile women about how they balance career and motherhood. From Lisa Wilkinson to Megan Gale to Natalie Barr and Pip Edwards, they all have affirming stories about how they manage the juggle of their glamorous jobs and children, usually with the help of family and nannies. It is not likely to strike a chord with a retail worker in Tuggeranong trying to balance three jobs and expensive child care, with no supporting family, but it is pretty to look at.
2 Beyond the Outback edited by Bronwyn Blake
More down to earth is this fascinating book about the Gulf women of remote North West Queensland. From floods to heartbreaking droughts and serious illness, these stories detail the experiences of 20 women living in one of the most inaccessible parts of Australia. The style varies with the author, but each is very readable, and all have an authentic Australian feel to them. There is a lot of humour, especially the tribulations of trying to find a cattle station cook, but also the terror of having a child bitten by a brown snake during flooding rains and no Flying Doctor Service. A terrific read.
3 The Land Girls by Victoria Purman
Those mothers who enjoy bulky historical tales of love, loss and survival will enjoy the latest novel by Australian author Victoria Purnman. Set in the Mildura countryside during the Second World War, it follows the fate of three very different women who set out to do their bit for the war effort by joining the Australian Women’s Land Army. As they struggle with the physical demands of working on the land, they also have to deal with the fear of losing loved ones fighting in the war. A well-researched and moving story of a very different time.
4 Diary of a Crap Housewife by Jessica Rowe
Allen & Unwin, $29.99
Jessica Rowe provides some light relief for those mums who are tired of seeing Facebook posts about perfectly packed school lunches, gourmet family dinners and obedient children. Instead, Jessica encourages mums to embrace the badge of being a crap housewife and acknowledge the disasters and bad meals that make up most lives. This engaging book is the perfect antidote to those pious self-help and healthy family cooking books that are often hoisted on mums. It is also quite amusing and despite Jessica’s claims of being a crap cook, there are some very nice recipes in it.
5 The Woman in Darkness by Charlie Donlea
Finally, Charlie Donlea’s latest novel is ideal for those mothers who enjoy a good mystery. This enjoyable mixture of domestic suspense and serial killer thriller will have her keenly turning the pages well into the night. Forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore sheds light on cold cases by piecing together details that others fail to see. When her lawyer father suddenly dies, she finds herself putting her skills to a personal use as she tries to work out why he was representing a notorious serial killer in his parole hearing, and what is her family’s link to the killer’s reign of terror in 1979. Well-constructed and very gripping.