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April book of the month: The Cows by Dawn O'Porter. Read the book and join the author webchat on Weds 25 April, 9pm

(103 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 03-Apr-18 17:52:22

We're delighted to announce our April book of the month is Dawn O'Porter's novel The Cows.

The Cows is columnist and TV presenter Dawn O'Porter's first foray into adult literature. Her YA novels Paper Aeroplanes and Goose received praise from critics for her humour and ability to capture the very essence of adolescent life. In The Cows, Dawn O'Porter captures the lives of millennials with the same vigour and humour. It's a fearless novel about female friendship, motherhood and finding your own voice in a world where it's often the social norm to follow the herd.

Find out more about the novel, read or listen to the first chapter and find read the Mumsnet bloggers' reviews. Buy a copy of the book and join us on Weds 25th April when you'll have the chance to chat to the author during our author webchat with Dawn O'Porter.

Helmetbymidnight Tue 24-Apr-18 14:36:17

Ok, a question for dawn:

I'm interested in books about female friendships- actually started a thread on here bout them somewhere- we got: the elena ferente novels, three things about Elsie, the animateurs, not much else, do you have any recommendations on that subject- or any in general?

I was glad that while there was some romance/happy ending it's not all about that- is that a deliberate choice and have you ever been encouraged to end/edit differently?

Also, what are you writing next?

PavlovaPrincess Tue 24-Apr-18 14:51:10

I think if a man had done that on a train, he would have been branded a pervert and given a criminal record. Also, it's interesting that Tara's daughter was only 6. If she'd been at senior school, this would have been a completely different story, although I still think Social Services would have been involves somehow.

I also didn't like how she brushed aside Annie's father. That was totally selfish on her part. If she found him six years later, she could've found him when she was pregnant. Her daughter has a right to know who her father was/is.

WhatWouldLeslieKnopeDo Tue 24-Apr-18 14:57:49

Yes, it was weird. It's not really just a "mistake". It's pretty extreme.

And once she did contact the father it was especially awful to then backtrack confused she should have told him about the pregnancy from the start and given him the choice of being involved or not.

ImAGoofyGoober Tue 24-Apr-18 17:17:37

Loved it!
I have a question for Dawn - Do you think Kate did the booby ears on purpose?! grin

Youhaditoncebutnowitsgone Wed 25-Apr-18 14:49:42

Hi Dawn, thanks for the webchat! Can I ask what you think of Tara? Do you like her?

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 25-Apr-18 20:19:10

Hi Dawn

I laughed and cried. I sobbed at the Facebook message from Stella's sister. I lost my mum to BC when I was Stella's age and my sister and I have both had it recently so that plot line really resonated and made me rather melancholy, even though her behaviour was a bit far fetched - to say the least! But I wondered where that story line had come from and - please don't answer if you don't want to - but whether you had experience of BRCA - it's just not something that crops up often in novels.

I also read it with certain movie actresses playing the roles in my mind (Cameron Diaz for Cam anyone? or is that just a terrible lack of imagination on my part because of the name?!). Do you have a visual portrait of the characters when you write and - cliche question alert - who would you want to play them in the movie/ netflix version?

Thanks for coming onto Mumsnet and congrats on the book.

CorbyGirl Wed 25-Apr-18 20:58:46

Hi Dawn, I thought this was a wonderful book! Just hilarious and almost impossible to put it down. Do you see parts of yourself in the three main female protagonists? Regarding Cam’s desire not to have children, did you share similar ambivalent feelings before you became a mum? Or maybe still do?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 25-Apr-18 20:59:38

A warm welcome to Mumsnet Dawn O'Porter. Thanks so much for agreeing to join us this evening? Morning ? First question: What time is it there? As you see so many Mumsnet book clubbers have joined us this month in reading The Cows - it seemed such a perfect novel for our book club. There's already lots of questions and discussion up there, so I'll hand straight over to you....

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 20:59:47

Hi Everyone, thanks for having me on Mumsnet. I've read quite a few of the comments that have already come in, and see there was a very mixed reaction to The Cows, which I find thrilling. I wrote this book to spark debate, and judging by many of the comments...it worked. I'll try and get through as many as I can. I want to ask you not to hold back, but I already see that a lot of you aren't;) So I wont either...OK, here goes...

AbsLouise Wed 25-Apr-18 21:00:47

I absolutely loved this book! I think every woman should read it.

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:02:54

CorbyGirl

Hi Dawn, I thought this was a wonderful book! Just hilarious and almost impossible to put it down. Do you see parts of yourself in the three main female protagonists? Regarding Cam’s desire not to have children, did you share similar ambivalent feelings before you became a mum? Or maybe still do?

Hey CB!

Thank you, I'm so pleased you enjoyed it. Yes, there is a little bit of me in each of the characters. I wanted to write a book about three women who didnt have children for various reasons, as I was never one of those women who just knew it was what I wanted to do. But soon into the process of writing it I had my first kid, it was impossible for me not to have motherhood as a theme, so I went back to the start and gave Tara a child. The book really started to take shape after that, but I'm not sure I could have written bout motherhood before I had done it myself.

littlerose12345 Wed 25-Apr-18 21:04:53

Loving the book so far! Only 50% in but have already warmed to the 3 main characters.

How long did it take to write and is there a character that you felt most drawn to or that is similar to you? X

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:06:22

carriemumsnet

Hi Dawn

I laughed and cried. I sobbed at the Facebook message from Stella's sister. I lost my mum to BC when I was Stella's age and my sister and I have both had it recently so that plot line really resonated and made me rather melancholy, even though her behaviour was a bit far fetched - to say the least! But I wondered where that story line had come from and - please don't answer if you don't want to - but whether you had experience of BRCA - it's just not something that crops up often in novels.

I also read it with certain movie actresses playing the roles in my mind (Cameron Diaz for Cam anyone? or is that just a terrible lack of imagination on my part because of the name?!). Do you have a visual portrait of the characters when you write and - cliche question alert - who would you want to play them in the movie/ netflix version?

Thanks for coming onto Mumsnet and congrats on the book.

HEy Carrie!

I'm so sorry to hear about your mum. I lost my mum too, so I used a lot of my own emotional experiences to draw the character of Stella. I was tested for the BRCA gene and it was negative, but it didn't take much to imagine the result being different.

As far as me playing one of the characters...no way..there is only space for one actor in a marriage;)

ButDoYouAvocado Wed 25-Apr-18 21:07:47

Hi Dawn, the book has three very strong female characters. I wondered which of them you most udfntifird with and why?

Love2read22 Wed 25-Apr-18 21:09:08

Hi Dawn
I'm a big fan and loved the book. It was great to read something so contemporary and in our world (I'm a blogger). Do you ever feel like you spend too long on social media? And do you worry that you over-share your life? Have you ever had to delete a comment for fear that it would cause problems or go viral?

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:10:09

PavlovaPrincess

I think if a man had done that on a train, he would have been branded a pervert and given a criminal record. Also, it's interesting that Tara's daughter was only 6. If she'd been at senior school, this would have been a completely different story, although I still think Social Services would have been involves somehow.

I also didn't like how she brushed aside Annie's father. That was totally selfish on her part. If she found him six years later, she could've found him when she was pregnant. Her daughter has a right to know who her father was/is.

Hey Pavlova!

Many people have written comments along these lines so I'll use yours to answer a few...

It's very interesting about what would have happened to a man, I thought about that all the time. I don't know if he absolutely would have got into more trouble. The facts are...this person was alone. They didn't aim this sex act at anyone...if you think you are alone, if it is obviously not intended to hurt anyone, then is it so bad?

I don't know what the answer is, but I don't think Tara was a terrible person, or weird. I just think she got carried away.

I'm typing so fast, hope it's fast enough. I'll reply to someone else to answer the other bits....

annalouise85 Wed 25-Apr-18 21:11:18

Thank you for this book.
As a woman in her early thirties (without children, yet) I really enjoyed Cam's character who was so 'ok' about the life she had chosen.

Celama Wed 25-Apr-18 21:11:41

Hi Dawn
Ive found this an interesting read - it's not something that I would normally pick up and I would hesitate to say I love it because some of the content but it was certainly a refreshing change. I found Tara in particular a very angry/defensive character and I couldn't take to her from the very start of the book after she accosted Annie's friends mum over the party invite as it seemed such an extreme reaction and very unfair on Annie if it hadn't gone the way she wanted. However, I maybe just need to broaden my horizons a bit!

Out of all the different writing that you have done, what is your favourite style? Fiction, young adult, non fiction, columns or broadcasts?

Bookn3rd Wed 25-Apr-18 21:13:08

Hi Dawn

Congrats on the book - I really enjoyed it!

I found it interesting that the internet and social media was used to connect people and bring them together (Cam's blog), but also that it could also destroy someone's life within a few hours (Tara's public shaming). Has it changed your view on social media at all?

ButDoYouAvocado Wed 25-Apr-18 21:14:46

Cam seems able to distance herself from criticism as part of her status as a blogger. As a figure well known on social media, how easy is it for you to rise above the ridiculously high standards social media holds cekebrities up to and not let it get go you? Did your experience within this sphere help shape Cam as a character?

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:14:59

Ritzsaltedcrackers

I didn’t really enjoy it. I thought the scene which led to Tara’s humiliation was utterly unbelievable. No one would do that on a tube carriage. No one normal, anyway. It was hard to empathise with her. And Cam was insufferable. Again, it was impossible to believe that her vacuous self centred ramblings would attract such a following.

Hey!

You say no 'normal' person would do this...but this is how I got the idea...
Once a very good friend of mine told me (and it really was a friend, I am not covering up my own actions) she was in an airport and was overcome with INSATIABLE horniess. She said she was like a wild animal, searching for a mate. She thought about approaching strangers and making a proposition, but she isnt really that sort of person, so she just went into the toilets at the airport and had a good old masturbate. After that, she was perfectly 'normal'.

She's now a happily married woman with two kids...nothing odd about her at all. I think that sometimes any human has the capacity to get so turned on they can't control themselves...if it doesnt harm anyone, and if you dont put someone in a horrible situation...is it so bad to masturbate somewhere other than the privacy of your own home?

I dont think so.

Paulastribe Wed 25-Apr-18 21:16:51

Hi Dawn, I wondered how much your life has changed since becoming a parent. What do you find the most difficult thing about having kids and what's the biggest thing you wish you had known before becoming a mum?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 25-Apr-18 21:19:06

Can we put to you the Mumsnet questions that we put to all our authors:

What was your favourite childhood book?

What was the last book you gave to someone as a gift?

What was the last book you read?

Can you describe the room(s) where you wrote The Cows?

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:19:37

WhatWouldLeslieKnopeDo

Yes, it was weird. It's not really just a "mistake". It's pretty extreme.

And once she did contact the father it was especially awful to then backtrack confused she should have told him about the pregnancy from the start and given him the choice of being involved or not.

Hey Leslie!

I think that you're right. Kind of. But I also see where Tara was coming from. She had a one night stand, which people do, and isnt something to be judged for. She didnt know this guy. it was just a moment. Some sex. Over in moments. I dont think we can underestimate how terrifying it would have been to tell him she was pregnant when she didnt even know him, and that she wanted to keep the baby. That guy would have had two choices, be an asshole or just suddenly be a dad. There is something that feels cruel about putting a man in that position. I AM NOT SAYING TARA did the right thing. I'm not sure I could ever have done what she did, but....She was a great mum. She didnt suddenly become a terrible mum because she touched her own vagina on a train. I kind of understand why she never told him...I think she MAYBE did the right thing....for her...the debate continuessmile

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:21:42

annalouise85

Thank you for this book.
As a woman in her early thirties (without children, yet) I really enjoyed Cam's character who was so 'ok' about the life she had chosen.

Hey Anna

GREAT, I love hearing this. Society has a negative reaction to women who don't have kids. They are often referred to as tragic, cold or selfish. This isnt the case for almost all of my friends who are childfree. You do what feels right for you, and live your life your way. Having children is not what makes you a woman!

xxx

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