Have you ever had a book that you put off reading for months, and then—once you finally started reading it—wanted to kick yourself for neglecting such a remarkable book? That’s how I’ve been feeling since I opened this book on my tablet the other day. I only meant to peek and see how it started, but I was drawn into the story so quickly, I had to keep reading.
The Mothers’ Group tells the story of six Australian women who meet at a support group for new mothers:
- Ginie, the prominent lawyer married to a writer/photographer who—as the primary provider—must leave her daughter’s care to a nanny.
- Made (pronounced ma-day), the Balinese emigrant adjusting to being a wife and new mother in a place much different from her homeland.
- Suzie, the single mother struggling to care for her baby on her own.
- Miranda, the woman who seems to have the perfect life, and the only mother in the group who also has both a baby and a toddler (her stepchild) to care for.
- Pippa, the perpetually exhausted, strangely withdrawn woman who shares little of her life.
- Cara, the friendly woman whose kindness has a knack for putting everyone at ease.
Unlikely to have met under ordinary circumstances, in time the women form a strong bond of friendship as they navigate the joys and frustrations of new motherhood, supporting one another in ways their husbands and other friends can’t. But a day comes that puts their friendship to the test and they learn just how strong—or fragile—it truly is.
I really, really enjoyed this book. The story is told through the perspective of each woman, with the story broken up into six parts. In them, we see not only what is happening in the present, but also the past of each of them—learning about the events in their lives that led them to becoming pregnant and participating in the mothers’ group. Having the story told in this way gives the reader insight into each of the characters. We discover things that they haven’t shared with the other women, which often explains why they say—or do—certain things when they gather together. There are a few shocking discoveries along the way that definitely shook up my perceptions of these women and their families. That made the book infinitely more interesting to me, because it enriched them all in ways that added to the story.
If I had to choose a favorite character, it would be Made. There was an air of innocence and vulnerability about her that especially drew me to her character. She had to deal with being a new mom just like the others, but she had other difficulties, as well. She was living far away from her family, in a strange (to her) new country. She had to improve her English, which meant she often had difficulty expressing her thoughts and feelings because she didn’t have the (English) words for it. Despite that air of innocence, Made had a great deal of wisdom, and a way of looking at things that proved helpful to her friends in many ways.
Higgins has created a vivid portrait of what new motherhood looks like, and didn’t shy away from making it as realistic as possible. Adjusting your life to include a baby isn’t easy, and it’s refreshing to read a book that confronts that reality, rather than showing the idealized fantasy many women expect while pregnant.
This book is simply beautiful, and I definitely recommend giving it a try!
About the Book
The Mothers’ Group tells the story of six very different women who agree to regularly meet soon after the birth of their babies. Set during the first crucial year of their babies’ lives, the story tracks the women’s individual journeys—and the group’s collective one—as they navigate birth and motherhood as well as their shifting romantic relationships 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 group. Until one day an unthinkably shocking event changes everything. This is an unflinching and compelling portrait of the modern family in all its complexity and intensity: love, sex, and marriage, and all the joys and tensions of raising children in an increasingly complicated world. Moving, provocative, tender, and utterly gripping, The Mothers’ Group will draw you in and never let you go.
About the Author
She has qualifications in the humanities and social sciences and, a long time ago while studying, once worked as an Indonesian translator, a masseuse and a spruiker of fruitcakes (not all at once).
A lover of travel, Fiona recently spent three years in Indonesia with her husband and three children.
She now lives in Sydney, but has itchy feet.