The Mummyfesto by Linda Green
|The Mummyfesto by Linda Green|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Fairhead|
|Summary: Light-hearted yet deeply moving, political yet family-orientated... a wide range of issues are covered in a thought-provoking and very enjoyable novel for intelligent women.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 457||Date: February 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Three women, who meet regularly in the school playground, have become close friends. Sam has two sons: the sensitive, old-for-his years Zach, who is seven, and the fun-loving five-year-old Oscar. Anna has two teenagers, Will and Charlotte, and a younger daughter called Esme. Jackie just has Alice. Oscar, Esme and Alice are classmates, and good friends; sadly, Oscar suffers from an incurable muscle-wasting disease, and can only move in a wheelchair. Sam and her partner Rob have to use ventilators and other machines just to keep him alive, knowing that any infection could be seriously life-threatening.
Jackie works as a teacher at Will and Charlotte’s high school. In odd moments she also has to deal with her mother, who lives alone but is becoming more and more stricken with Alzheimer’s disease, sometimes wandering around the neighbourhood in her nightwear looking for roses to prune. Jackie would dearly love another child, but seems unable to conceive one.
Anna’s life is stressful too: she works as a teenager counsellor, often despairing at being able to give any help. Her teenagers are having problems of their own: Will is getting into bad company, and Charlotte is being badly buliied. Anna feels increasingly remote from her husband too, partly due to spending many hours online blogging and tweeting about family issues.
The book begins with a typical and amusing journey to school for Sam and her sons. Then they hear that Shirley, the school lollipop lady, is being made redundant. They are horrified and decide to start a petition, which, with the help of their friends, is wildly successful. They get on the local news and start brainstorming about what they would do if they were politicians. So Sam proposes starting a new political party that puts families first.
The three friends come up with a ‘mummyfesto’, which includes fully funding hospices, free parking at hospitals, job opportunities for under-25s, and a great deal more. Anna is astounded to find thousands of people following her tweets on the topic, not only giving good suggestions but supporting their endeavours wholeheartedly.
Most of the book then follows the rapid rise of the ‘Lollipop’ party, interspersed with events from family life for each of these three women.
The chapters alternate between each of the three, which works well to give their different perspectives. I found it a little confusing that they are all narrated in the first person, but I quickly became used to the style. I liked Sam very much, and looked forward to her sections. However, I found it hard to tell any real difference between Jackie and Anna’s parts, and sometimes forgot which one I was reading about. Their young daughters, Alice and Esme, were even more difficult to distinguish in my mind. But not every character in a book can be fully rounded - and I was pleased that Will, Charlotte, Zach and Oscar all felt quite real to me.
For the first part of the book I read just a chapter or two each night, without any need to keep reading. But by the time I was half way through, I could hardly put it down. The story moves rapidly, the difficulties piling high for each family, and towards the end I had to grab a box of tissues for the entirety of two chapters. What happened was not unexpected, but beautifully written and very moving.
I do have a few small niggles with the novel. I felt as if there were rather too many important issues just touched upon, with little realistic resolution. Charlotte’s bullying, for instance, is eventually resolved cleverly but a bit too neatly. I was a disappointed that home education was only mentioned in passing, treated as if it were a poor alternative to school rather than a positive decision. Will’s problems, too, seem to vanish overnight when he is confronted with them - and he’s such a nice lad that I could never quite reconcile him getting into the bad company and habits that upset his parents anyway. There are some other unlikely scenes and coincidences; none a problem on its own, but by the end I felt there were rather too many.
I felt irritated, too, that there were a couple of unecessary jibes at God, which were irrelevant to the story. I was also a bit disturbed by the amount of bad language in the book. I realise that some people use profanities, and in some cases in this novel, the situations were not inappropriate for strong language. However, I would like to have been able to recommend this otherwise excellent book to teenage friends, but in the circles I’m part of, the f-word simply isn’t used or considered acceptable.
Still, these are minor complaints in comparison to the book as a whole, so I'm only subtracting a star. It was amusing in places, highly emotional in others, and written with a great pace. I was particularly impressed with the believable way in which the Lollipop party political campaign stayed family-focussed, and yet grew astronomically through Twitter and the powerful world of women bloggers. Perhaps it was all a bit too neat and tidy, yet by the end I half expected there to be a real party with this name, one which I would most certainly vote for.
Definitely recommended, if you don’t mind the aforementioned niggles.
Many thanks to the publishers for sending ‘The Mummyfesto’ to TheBookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mummyfesto by Linda Green at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Mummyfesto by Linda Green at Amazon.com.
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