Secret Mothers’ Business? The Mothers’ Group

There are some books that just get a conversation going. It’s not even necessarily the book that’s being talked about, sometimes it’s just a chat about memories, experiences, emotions… the book is just the catalyst, the starting point, the excuse.

Fiona Higgin’s The Mothers’ Group (Allen and Unwin) is one such book. A book club favourite, this novel has sparked many conversations in lounge rooms and cafes, over coffee and wine. Not surprisingly it has struck a cord with mothers around the country, all eager to share their own experiences of the spell-binding, mind-blowing and at times terrifying stage of early motherhood:

‘The Mothers’ Group’ tells the story of six very different women who agree to regularly meet soon after the births of their babies.

Set during the first crucial year of their babies’ lives, ‘The Mothers’ Group’ tracks the women’s individual journeys – and the group’s collective one – as they navigate birth and motherhood as well as the shifting ground of their relationship with their partners.

Each woman strives in her own way to become the mother she wants to be, and finds herself becoming increasingly reliant on the friendship and support of the members of the mothers’ group. Until one day an unthinkably shocking event changes everything, testing their bonds and revealing closely held secrets that threaten to shatter their lives.

Sucked in yet? I know I was…

I’d had lots of people recommend this book before I read it, and I’ll admit that at chapter one I wasn’t quite sure why. The story was interesting, albeit a little stereotypical, but on meeting Ginie, the first of six main characters, I found her somewhat unlikeable, she irritated me and therefore, so did the book. But, by about forty pages in, I worked out that this was exactly what I was supposed to feel, and decided to go along for the ride.

The novel paints a picture of challenges, both personal and maternal…

“All those things no one ever tells you about motherhood. It’s like secret mothers’ business. Lots of my friends had babies before me, but not one of them ever told me it would be this hard… It’s like a code of silence.”

…and appeals to a wide range of readers by presenting a fair range of ‘typical’ types of mothers. The story’s mothers’ group is an eclectic mix of woman, and half the intrigue of the novel is watching how these people relate to each other, and overtime, learn from each other.

Higgin’s had constructed a suspenseful, relatable and quite complex novel. It is at times a little cliched, but is no less enjoyable for it. In addition, I think the book encourages important conversations that can be very helpful to new mothers, and equally to those mothers who’ve gone through this challenging stage in the past.

The Mothers’ Group is our September TBYL Book Club book, and I can’t wait to hear what you thought of the book. Discussions kick off online on Monday, 24 September and will continue until Wednesday evening. I’ll be online on Monday night (from about 7:30pm) if you’d like to join me for a live chat. You can join the TBYL Book Club here.

If you’d like to buy a copy of the book, I’ve got copies in the TBYL Store, here…

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