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October book of the month: Mother by Hannah Begbie - read and join the discussion and author webchat MONDAY 29 October at 9pm

(60 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 03-Oct-18 11:08:00

Our October book of the month is Hannah Beebie’s debut novel Mother.

Cath has just 25 days of 'normality' with her newborn baby, before her daughter is diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. As her relationship with her husband cracks under the pressure, Cath joins a CF parental support group. It's here that she meets Richard, whose daughter also has CF.

Hannah Begbie’s novel was inspired by her own experience; her son was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when he was five weeks old. Through the novel she explores how parents respond when their worst fears are imagined and the expectations and judgements of those around them.

Find out what the MN book bloggers thought about the novel and read or listen to an extract. Buy a copy or download the ebook for 99p and read with us this month ahead of the author webchat on 29th October at 9pm.

Beauteafully Sun 07-Oct-18 03:18:04

I just devoured this book in a few days. Can't wait to hear everyone else's thoughts!!

Yeahmum Sat 13-Oct-18 16:07:42

Hannah, only read 10% so far. Where did your inspiration for her mum come from?

Beauteafully Sat 13-Oct-18 21:22:50

The chat isn't until the 29th.

Yeahmum Mon 22-Oct-18 23:16:30

Thanks @Beauteafully, I know, I found the mother so frustrating I wanted to get my question non early. I really enjoyed the book.

Yeahmum Mon 22-Oct-18 23:25:42

*in early

Beauteafully Tue 23-Oct-18 04:39:37

@Yeahmum Me, too!! I can't wait to discuss it. I was yelling at her the whole book!!

clairet144 Wed 24-Oct-18 13:47:01

This sounds like a good read,

Beauteafully Wed 24-Oct-18 19:45:15

@clairet144 It was. I couldn't put it down.

dottypotter Fri 26-Oct-18 17:30:54

i bought this book when it came out in August and i didnt really enjoy it. The cover made it look appealling but it wasnt really.

WrongSideOfHistory Sat 27-Oct-18 01:24:34

I enjoyed this book - as a parent of a child with additional health needs I can completely understand the searching for answers & reassurance, the need to be almost obsessed with routine & schedules to maintain health etc.

My questions (in advance of the session on Monday) are:

- do you think it's almost inevitable that relationships will be under huge strain (& in some cases breakdown completely) in these situations? What do you think could be done to prevent this?

- I was really shocked when Cath assaulted Rachel instead of wrestling Mia from her/calling the police. Why did you feel that she'd respond this way?

- I found it hard to have any sympathy for Richard - he seemed very manipulative and a liar. Did he have any redeeming qualities to you?

Beauteafully Sat 27-Oct-18 01:58:52

Richard's only redeeming quality was that he brought back excitement to her life. Other than that he was a cad. I'm not sure if it's ok to give any spoilers, yet. I have a lot to say!!! smile

April2020mom Sat 27-Oct-18 21:53:48

Would you recommend this to other people? How many stars would you give it? What tips would you have for newly diagnosed families? Where can I find a copy of it?

WrongSideOfHistory Sat 27-Oct-18 23:34:05

@April2020mom - it's available on kindle for 99p smile

FernieB Sat 27-Oct-18 23:49:03

I did enjoy this book and read it quite quickly as it moves at a fast pace and the author really gets on with the narrative. As other posters have said , I also found Cath to be irritating. I could sympathise with her situation but found her reaction to be abhorrent. She was very naive in falling for Richard's patter and selfish in her pursuit of him which she seemed to prioritise over everything else in her life.

I did like the other characters and would have liked to know more about her husband and perhaps hear from him - he seemed altogether more practical and accepting of the situation. Caths mother and sister were also great. The family lunch scene was interesting as Cath behaved very much like a sullen child when around her mother. It seems that she idolised her father to such an extent that she had no interest in the rest of her family.

I'd like to know which character (other than Cath) did the author enjoy writing about most and why?

MakemineaGandT Mon 29-Oct-18 08:44:47

I found this an uncomfortable read. Obviously I really felt for Cath and Dave and the difficult circumstances in which they find themselves, but I didn’t warm to Cath at all. Whilst I understand why she behaved irrationally at times, I found her a bit petulant- for example the smashing up of the medicines, and later throwing a vase against a wall. I found Richard weasely and selfish from the start and couldn’t understand why Cath couldn’t see through him.

The one bit of relief cane from the relationship between Cath and her sister Caroline. Despite their very different personalities and the issues arising from their own upbringing, they had a close supportive bond. My question for Hannah is whether she drew on her relationship with her own real life sister in writing?

elbowz Mon 29-Oct-18 13:17:37

I devoured this book too -- a great read. I also loved the (no-spoiler) way that things ended up. How many different endings did you play with -- or did you always know that's what you wanted to happen?

WhatWouldLeslieKnopeDo Mon 29-Oct-18 14:54:40

I won this in last month's book chat, so thank you smile

I found it very compelling and didn't want to put it down. I also found Cath's behaviour absolutely infuriating most of the time. Do you feel she has any redeeming qualities? Do you empathise with her because of your shared experience? And do you know anyone who actually reacted in such an extreme way, either an affair or something else as life-altering? (Sorry, I know that's three questions so feel free to pick just one blush)

Also I would've liked to hear a bit more about Cath's childhood and her relationship with her father, and why that had affected the whole family so much. It sounds like she was always extremely self-absorbed, rather than that being a reaction to the diagnosis (in which case I would've felt more sympathetic).

Richard is a total slimeball. I wondered if he was just at the first meeting to prey on vulnerable women.

Anyway, thank you for such a good book. I could ask lots more questions so it's definitely thought-provoking. I hope that your son is doing well flowers

bettyskitchen Mon 29-Oct-18 15:08:19

I also loved this book - I agree with MakemineaGandT that is was an uncomfortable read but think this is a testament to great writing smile

What's up next for you Hannah?

Belo Mon 29-Oct-18 18:03:32

I'll be travelling this evening and I don't know if I'll be able to make the web chat or not. I would very much like to as I would very much like to hear about the motivation behind the mother character. As mentioned already by other posters, I found her highly irritating. I wanted to give her a good shake! That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the book. It was a gripping read and made me appreciate how hard life is for a mother of a CF child.

WrongSideOfHistory Mon 29-Oct-18 19:04:01

Another question from me.

I felt quite cold towards Rachel, I thought I'd have more sympathy for her than I did. Did you purposefully avoid her being a very sympathetic character?

starlight36 Mon 29-Oct-18 19:32:39

Hi Hannah,
Another one who will miss the start of the webchat so I'd like to get my question in now.
Firstly I read in the front of the book that the TV rights have been bought. Do you have any thoughts about who would be your 'dream team' of actors? Will you get an opportunity to be involved in the production?
I found the book thought-provoking and it definitely taught me a lot about Cystic Fibrosis. Did you always feel you had a book in you? Are you working on anything else now?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 29-Oct-18 20:59:38

A warm welcome this evening to Hannah Begbie, author of our October book of the month, Mother. Thanks very much for joining us tonight Hannah and congratulations on your thought-provoking and gripping debut novel. As you see there's already lots of questions in so we'll hand over to you...

Belo Mon 29-Oct-18 20:59:55

I have found that I have signal still! So, I’ve got another question (while I can) It’s regarding the cover of the book. I picked this up and started reading it without really thinking what it was about. I knew I I wanted to read it as it was the Mumsnet Book of the month. From looking at the cover I expected a crime story, perhaps with a child abduction. What do you think of the cover Hannah? I know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover people often do. Do you think the cover is right for your story?

HannahBegbie Mon 29-Oct-18 21:01:05


A warm welcome this evening to Hannah Begbie, author of our October book of the month, Mother. Thanks very much for joining us tonight Hannah and congratulations on your thought-provoking and gripping debut novel. As you see there's already lots of questions in so we'll hand over to you...

Hello to everyone who has logged on this evening (I hope you’re not too jet-lagged from the clocks going back) and a big thanks to Rachel and Mumsnet for hosting. Thanks for all your responses and questions. I’m pleased to hear how the characters have divided people and fascinated that more than one of you really wanted to get involved by shaking some sense into them or screaming in frustration. These responses get to the heart of two things I was trying to do. Firstly, explore how people deal with profound stress in different ways (and how frustrating and isolating that can be for them and anyone dealing with them) and secondly, to look at how, and if, we judge mothers for impulses that fall outside of the protect/nurture impulse. So with that, I’ll start with the questions that were posted a few days ago.

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