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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.

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:48:45

GOODNESS ME, my fingers are aching. From typing (PROMISE). I wish I could write this much when I have a deadline;)

AliW72 Wed 25-Apr-18 21:48:16

Oh shit....I’m so sorry I think I gave something away in my previous post. Massive apologies I’m a complete virgin to this 🙈

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:48:05


Hi Dawn,

Just finished reading this and really enjoyed it. Interesting subject matter but the thing that bugged me throughout - as someone who makes documentaries, why did Tara not start documenting what was happening to her and making a programme about public shaming? Seemed a missed opportunity for her to get her side across and show how hard things were for her.

Looking forward to your next book.


Hey Mama

Just like it's sometimes impossible to follow your own advice, it's sometimes not obvious when an opportunity passes by you. Also, I honestly think Tara wanted to disappear. She didnt want ANY of that attention. She loved being behind the camera, if what happened hadn't have happened, she would never have put herself into the position of 'the subject.

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:46:30


Is it blind sighted? Or blind sided? No idea.

LITERALLY no idea;)

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:46:09


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?

HEy Celma

I think you're right, her reactions was terrible ad unfair. However I will say this...I think I am a reasonable human. Generally polite, mostly able to be decent in social situations. But sometimes, I just can't contain myself. People have TERRIBLE days, where they feel like shit. Where stuff gets on top of them, and on those days, they do and say bad things. I think that is perfectly normal, yet if you are the recipient of those actions, we forget to consider that its just a bad day, or the stress they can be under. We just judge.

Tara was an important character, because she highlighted a very important point. Just because you are a mother, doesn't mean you are perfect. You are still a woman, with feelings, emotions, needs, ambitions. Sometimes, you put yourself first. Sometimes you don't stop yourself doing what you feel like doing because you are worried about how it might affect your kids.

I relate to that. I can't make myself perfect just because I have kids now. I still scream FUCK when I stub my toe. I still write embarrassing books about sex, that they will one day have to read. And I STILL drink way too much tequila and put them to bed in their clothes sometimes. But I am STILL a brilliant and devoted mum with very happy children.

Just like Tara and Annie.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 25-Apr-18 21:41:43


How do you join

Hi KatieKirks76 - you've joined! Welcome! Post your Qs for Dawn in the message box asap as Dawn is with us until 10pm. Shout if you have any other questions about how it works.

PavlovaPrincess Wed 25-Apr-18 21:41:37

I'm quite chill already thanks, Dawn.

I don't think finding somebody masturbating on a train vile, is prudish or bizarre though. But thanks for replying. And I found Tara most vile for what she did to her daughter. Thanks for replying though.

Have a good evening.

Katiekirks76 Wed 25-Apr-18 21:40:56

How do you join the podcast to listen in?

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:40:28


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?

Hey Bookn3rd!

When you are in the public eye (or not) and on social media, it's rollercoaster. You can offend So easily, and then receive a barrage of abuse and hate. I did a lot of research into people who's lives have been turned upside down and it was fascinating. Mostly, that in life you generally get the chance to explain, make up for it, say sorry. On Twitter, you fuck up and you are just SLAMMED. People are waiting for it, they LOVE it. You may get forgiven eventually, but they will remind you about it every day.

WHY do we do this to ourselves?

I am totally addicted to the drama of it all

Katiekirks76 Wed 25-Apr-18 21:40:20

How do you join

NapQueen Wed 25-Apr-18 21:40:04

How have you found it juggling two small boys and your writing? Do you have a good support system in place to truly focus or do you just tune out the noise and do what you can? Either way the results are great!

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


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?

Hey! I love being a parent. It's settled my feet firmly on the ground, given me a new kind of energy. A new perspective. I am tired, but thats OK. I can cope with that.

My only regret is that I didn't go on more holidays before I had kids. I never really did. And now there is nothing relaxing about holidays...if I could go back in time, I'd be in the Caribbean a lot.

Fromage Wed 25-Apr-18 21:36:58

Hello Dawn.

I have no business being here as I have not read The Cows, but I just wanted to say your instagram stories about your cat peeing on your vintage chair had me crying tears of laughter for a full day.

How is the chair?


DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:35:34


Hi Dawn.

The "staircase" incident towards the end of the book caught me completely by surprise and had me sat, hands over my mouth, for a god few minutes. Blind sighted me completely.

Did you know you wanted that charaters story to go that way prior to starting, or did it evolve over the course of the book?

Hey NapQueen (can you get my baby to nap?)

No, I didnt. Half way through I emailed my editor and said 'I THINK CAM NEEDS TO ***********). I dont want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't read it.

After I made this decision I wrote it a few different ways but it never felt right. The moment it happened came very quietly to me. It was about 10pm, I was in my office, and the scene just flowed out of me. I sat and cried at my computer (I have a baby and it was late...tears happened a lot).

I knew it was shocking, but it happens....

AliW72 Wed 25-Apr-18 21:35:20


Hi Dawn,
I really enjoyed The Cows. I laughed, I cringed and I also felt sad. I loved Tara & Cam. The character that puzzled me the most was Stella. To begin with I felt sorry for her, then I found her rather disturbing and finished off feeling sorry for her once again. However my question is did you know from the start you were going to kill off Cam? I was totally shocked by that?? I look forward to hopefully more adult fiction in the future smile

IdleDoughnut Wed 25-Apr-18 21:34:53

Hi Dawn,

Without giving too much away, I liked how all three female characters become a lot closer. Will you possibly be re-exploring the characters in a second book? pretty please grin

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:32:24


I agree @Ritzsaltedcrackers Tara's excuse was she thought she was alone in the carriage.

Not sure how alone you can reasonably expect to be in a public place though. There would have been no excuses for a man caught doing that.


Read this book when it first came out and loved it. Its been passed around the family and friends too who all enjoyed it.

LOVE THIS, thank you!

Mayflowerblogs0610 Wed 25-Apr-18 21:31:57

Nap Queen, my reaction was indentical to yours!

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:31:29


Just finished this today. Started it expecting to hate it but actually raced through it in a couple of days.

I will say that Tara is just a vile human being and not some kind of feminist heroine.

Hey Pavlova

I think vile is a BIZARRE reaction and very prudish and closed minded. I don't think she is a feminist heroine either, but she aint that bad! Chill ya boots!

AbsLouise Wed 25-Apr-18 21:31:01


Hey Dawn,

Thanks for writing this book, it's fabulous and had me both laughing and crying! I think you explored such a multitude of themes brilliantly! smile

If Cam had lived would you liked for her to have ended up in a relationship with Mark or would you have preferred for her to stay single and never really 'settled down' in the sense where she might be in a committed relationship?

I loved Cam's character and I think part of what attracted me to her was because she reminds me of myself in a lot of ways. I think the fact that she was single, living by herself very independently, and loving her own company is something that isn't always painted in a positive light in other books/in the media and also just in general life. I think we're often shown that to be single is somehow to be lacking in something and I love how Cam was completely rocking life as a successful blogger and being self-sufficient with only herself to rely on!

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:30:03


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

I MEAN! I think she probably spend at least 8 minutes lining up that shot;)

DawnOPorter Wed 25-Apr-18 21:29:31


Really enjoyed it- loved the strong messages about female solidarity and speaking out. A really positive and modern fable.

Gosh I didn't find Tara a vile human at all- I liked her v much- I found her mistake uncomfortable reading- had to cover my eyes - but it spoke a lot about Internet culture/shaming and bullying. One moments stupidity = life time of insults.

I'm so glad she and Jason got together.

Hey helmet? ;)

Ahh thanks! Glad you felt this way. And as for the love story, I'm so pleased you enjoyed them getting together. I've seen a lot of feedback about lots of 'strong female' books where people are annoyed about a love story being weaved in. I find this SO WEIRD. Love stories are a part of life. I think most people, at the end of the day, want love in their lives. I get a little tired of stories where women are depicted as only searching for love, without many other ambitions, but I dont think writers should ever deny a character a nice relationship, no matter who they are.

I see myself as highly independent soul, but my marriage and family are the most important aspects of my life. I reach for the stars in so many ways, but I'd drop everything to protect my nest. I love weaving that into stories. Independent woman are still allowed to want to be loved...I know I do x

MamaCBear Wed 25-Apr-18 21:27:46

Hi Dawn,

Just finished reading this and really enjoyed it. Interesting subject matter but the thing that bugged me throughout - as someone who makes documentaries, why did Tara not start documenting what was happening to her and making a programme about public shaming? Seemed a missed opportunity for her to get her side across and show how hard things were for her.

Looking forward to your next book.


7YearsaWife Wed 25-Apr-18 21:27:26

Dawn! I've been watching you forever it seems. You are the reason I bought a Brompton!

I digress, I read Paper Aeroplanes and really enjoyed it. Is the Cows similar or completely different, or influenced by your life in LA?

NapQueen Wed 25-Apr-18 21:26:09

Is it blind sighted? Or blind sided? No idea.

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