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Hotpatooties the Cows is out.

the cows

The Cows

I’ve always been a lover of all things Dawn O’Porter, going back to when she presented a range of shows on BBCThree. I found myself following her on Instagram a while ago as well as finding her books on Amazon. I’d purchased them (Paper Aeroplanes & Goose) but had never got around to committing and reading them. It wasn’t until her new book, released in paperback this Summer, came out that I realised The Cows was her first Adult novel.

Finishing up my last book I waited a few hours until the evening came around. A mug of tea at my side and propped up on a cushion in the corner of the sofa I delved into The Cows.

To begin with, I wasn’t sure what it was about. Did it involve actual cows? I gave the synopsis at the back of the book a quick read but the quote on the front cover “Don’t follow the herd’, led us in. Oooh.

Introductions

the cows quoteIn the first chapter, we meet three women – Cam, Tara and Stella. O’Porter writes the story in sections, going through the lives of each of the women.

Tara

Tara works in television, creating documentaries with Great Big Productions. A recent documentary she has been working on comes to expose sexual harassment in the workplace. Tara is forced to share the success of her work with her boss, working in a male-dominated industry. As a single mother, she continues to juggle the dating scene as she looks for a long-term relationship.

Cam

Cam is a young popular internet blogger who’s made her living behind the screen. With her readers following her blogs, she goes into great detail about her life. Although she may appear confident, outgoing and sociable on her popular blog, and in the bedroom with her younger partners, socially she is the opposite. She has no plans to settle down, spurred on even more by watching her sister produce children she knows she didn’t really plan on having.

Stella

When we first meet Stella she is seen as part of two, ‘the sister of’. Stella’s twin sister Alice died not long ago. With that part of Stella’s identity has gone too. She shares how their mum ‘…used to say that she was the rose and I was the thornMy spiky nature was hidden by her softness. Now I’m exposed, without the petals of her personality to hide behind’. Stella’s character is struggling to move on from her sister’s death. Her boyfriend, Phil, finds it difficult to be around her especially when he returns home from work to find her wearing her sisters’ clothes. Stella clearly feels closer to her sister by doing this, however, Phil remains disgusted by it convinced by now that she should have cleared out her belongings.

Relating

the cows quote

Rights reserved to @hotpatooties Instagram.

As each of the characters grew I found it easy to find parts of myself in them, something I can’t help but feel was a perfectly planned act. Each character isn’t described wholly however as the story goes on I found myself mentally picturing how each one looked. In Cam with her unsociable behaviour yet I can also relate to Stella, who feels like the thorn whilst her sister is/was the rose.

The feeling of being unpopular, something I am sure we have all felt at one point in our lives. Personally speaking as a female who has worked in male-dominated industries (working in tech where only 17% of Google’s engineers, 15% of Facebook’s, and 10% of Twitter’s are women) it’s also something that can easily be related to, along with Tara working and feeling as though she needs to prove herself that extra bit more and even then can sometimes feel as though her/our work is overlooked or seen as a combination of everyone’s work, when it’s not. Being proud of her work can then be seen as showing off.

Adam, Tara’s boss, tells her to ‘stop acting like you’re in an ITV cop drama‘ after she shows him proof that she’s got footage in relation to Shane Bower, a managing director, admitting to sexually harassing employees. After telling her that Shane was an “easy target“, downplaying her work, he then headed into the main office waving the camera cards showing Bowers guilt and stated, “…we got him“.

Finding yourself in them.

Regarding Cam, I found pieces of myself in her. The self-conscious, anxious person who found that even the slightest of things outside her comfort zone put her on edge.  Tara’s daughter brings out the softness and protective behaviour in her. Although this does not alter how she reflects as a strong-willed career-focused woman. Whilst her work is honest, thought-provoking & genuine we do see a surprising side come out when she ‘swipes’ onto a date using a dating app. Fast forward 24 hours and we view her as just like ourselves, just as naive as us all at times. Caught indecently on her way home (dateless and on a train) she finds her face plastered all over social media. Television shows are discussing her as though she were not even a ‘decent human’. What is a ‘decent human’ anyway?

“Fast forward 24 hours and we view her as just like ourselves, just as naive as us all at times.”

As the story goes on I found myself seeing Stella as the one we should sympathise with. After the loss of her mum & twin things looked like they couldn’t dare get worse until she’s given a positive result for the BRCA1 gene. Faced with impending operations to remove both her breasts and reproductive organs she sets herself a goal of having a child. Her partner, Phil, has other plans, however. Which when you for him and anger at him all at once.
dawn oporter author of The Cows

Rights reserved to @hotpatooties

“I found myself mentally picturing how each one looked. As each of the characters grew I found it easy to find parts of myself in them, something you can’t help but feel was a perfectly planned act.”

Traits

I felt that with each chapter it was very easy to become at one with each of the women.

Whilst I could see myself in all of them there were also traits that as a reader brought feelings of exasperation. There’s Cam, with her strong-willed opinions she is inspiring, yet she could be seen as mildly ignorant to the feelings of those around her. Then there’s Stella, who was suffering loss and impending physical loss is admired for her strength to continue almost as normal, however, was seen as delusional when her planning to conceive a child with her boss Jason, who had no idea of such plan, unfolded. With each attempt at pushing Jason further away from a different relationship, we grew to see Stella willing to do anything to get what she needed. It’s at that point there are two choices. One, to see her as deluded as the others do or two, see her as just a woman who’s desperate yearning for a child means she will do whatever she can. And finally, there’s Tara, whose goal in life is to be happy, make her daughter happy and deliver her work with success.

So Many Questions

Throughout the story, we’re inundated with questions that as a reader I really wanted to find out!
  •  Shall Tara ever be reunited with her date?
  •  Will Tara ever be given that happy ending?
  •  Regarding Tara’s daughter’s father, will he ever find out about her existence?
  •  Shall Stella go ahead with the operations?
  •  Shall Stella have the child she so desperately wants?
  •  Will Cam ever settle down like her Mother wants her to? Or more to the point will she ever want to?
The story can feel like it ends abruptly, which gives me hope for a possible book two. (Dawn O’Porter briefly touched, in the foreword, on how Harper Collins have given her a two-book deal.)
 
A point discussed around Tara is that of ‘if it were a man…’ would there be such a fuss? Would it be worse? A week rarely goes by when you don’t read about some drunken adult on public transport doing something ludicrous.

Conclusion

In a review given by S Magazine ‘Fast, fun and fearless… a warning bell about social media and the damage it can cause’ speaks volumes. This book isn’t just about three women and their lives, it’s about that and everything in between. This generation differs from the last, how every little thing appears on social media that perhaps ten years ago wouldn’t have seen the light of day. With selfies, videos, stories, snapchats… all of which never existed in the previous generation. They have a lot to answer for this time around.
This book needs to be spoken about, as the reviews say. It’s one of those that stick with you for a time afterwards. It’s unpredictable. It’s addictive with a bitter twist in its tail. And as said by the woman herself: this book is about three women who don’t live life the way society expects them to. #dontfollowtheherd

Personal Recommendations

Best for fans of  Jodi Picoult & Cecelia Ahern.
Rating★★★★★

 

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