Friday, January 12, 2007

"The Yummy Mummy"

This past week I had a chance to review a new (to the US) book, being published by Hyperion this month; "The Yummy Mummy" by Polly Williams.

I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised. Most reader moms could tell you that "Mommy" fiction is all the rage right now; 1."Oh motherhood is so hard", 2."I'll try harder and apply myself to being better/prettier/thinner", 3."It worked and now my life is perfect!" is the usual rough format. And that is exactly what I expected going into this book. What I didn't expect was the true clear voice that Ms. Williams brings to her main character, Amy, and therefore motherhood itself.

Amy is a new mom of an adorable little daughter, Evie, but at six-months, she is fighting a major case of the baby blues, dissatisfied with herself, her looks, and her life in general. She also fears that Joe, Evie's father, is having an affair. So, when she meets Alice, a mom who seems to have it all together, she is inspired to make herself over, in Alice's and the other 'yummy mummy's' images.

She soon realizes though, that 'yummy mummy' life is not all it seems to be and not the answer that she thought it was. Life seems more complicated and problem filled, not less. And we, as readers, join her on her journey through the ins and outs of finding yourself after becoming a mother.

What struck me most about this book is the trueness and familiarity of Amy's thoughts and feelings. I found myself constantly saying "that sounds like me!" Amy's struggles could be the struggles of any new mom. And though most American moms would be thrilled at the idea of a year's worth maternity leave and a maternity stipend, the cultural differences are not off-putting or overly obvious. Amy is an 'any-mom'.

Some of my favorite bits:

"I change Evie into a fresh nappy, ready for her sleep. Her skin is soft and feels damp. Her eyes are locked into mine, following me around the room. Sometimes this dependancy makes me dizzy with love. Other times, like today, it brings on a strange, cloying claustriphobia. I have to push down the clawing desire to break free, to run, to dance, into the pit of my stomach. And there it stays, a silent creature spitting up disorienting vapors, tastes of freedom."

On lying awake long after man and child have fallen asleep:

"I pretended I was asleep when he came to bed. Four hours later I'm still here, fiercely awake, thoughts rattling in my head: Mum, haven't phoned; Grandma, haven't written; Evie needs a teether. Why is it that I have a brain like a cocaine-fueled city boy yet I supposedly don't even "work"?"

"Does motherhood really require a complete sublimation of self, or just the bits that are public?"

In "The Yummy Mummy" you will find almost all kinds of middle-to-upper class mother represented. Whether it be in the yummy mummies, the local playgroup mums, Amy's own mother or in Amy herself. I guarantee you will find something that strikes a cord of your own 'mother's heart' in this book.

Polly Williams. com

Hyperion Books

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