The Mothers’ Group provides enough ‘aha’ moments of recognition to make even the most sleep-deprived mum smile. And I should know: I read it while juggling my three-month-old daughter. This debut novel from Fiona Higgins (author of the memoir Love in the Age of Drought) covers the full spectrum of the parenting experience. It’s set in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and follows the lives of six very different mums who are thrown together in the same mothers’ group—insert conflict here. The book is divided into six sections, each detailing the life of one of the characters. There’s workaholic Ginie; Balinese immigrant Made; Suzie, a single mother; Pippa, who suffers postnatal depression; Cara, whose marriage is teetering on the brink; and Miranda, the unfortunate stepmum. Add to this themes such as the failure of Western society to support new parents, infidelity, substance abuse, birth deformities and more, and it’s beginning to sound like a depressing read. But this is no ‘misery mumoir’. The Mothers’ Group eschews what Higgins calls ‘the Eat, Pray, Love happy ending’ but still provides a hopeful (albeit unflinching) conclusion. This is sure to be popular with bookclubs.
Felicity McLean is a freelance writer and former book publicist. This review first appeared in the Feb/March issue of Bookseller+Publisher Magazine.