Holly Wainwright is a natural storyteller and she’s back with another rollicking good read, How To Be Perfect. Just like her first novel, The Mummy Bloggers, it’s packed with perceptive insights into parenting, hilarious observations on modern life and more than a few heart-in-mouth moments.
It’s the perfect book to read when you want something light, familiar and fun. Holly brings the same warmth, intimacy and humour to fiction writing as she does to her podcasts, This Glorious Mess and Mamamia Out Loud.
What’s How To Be Perfect about?
If you’ve read Holly’s first novel, The Mummy Bloggers, you’ll recognise a few of the main characters in How To Be Perfect.
Abi is back with her blog on living the green life – bigger and more lucrative than ever thanks to the publicity from that awards night debacle which saw her rival shot down in flames.
Thanks to the new marriage equality laws she’s planning her wedding to her long-time partner.
Oh, and her ex-husband is living in her barn – licking his emotional wounds while Abi raises his two kids from his second marriage. Needless to say, the whole situation is causing more than a little friction in the family.
Elle has abandoned her luxurious Brighton home and found herself a whole new stratosphere of wealth thanks to her Byron Bay benefactor. From his tropical oasis she runs her new blog – telling a small but worshipful following how to live their lives as their best selves.
All while selling ridiculously priced supplements, diet and exercise regimes.
Frances isn’t a blogger. She’s a nurse on maternity leave with her first baby. Motherhood isn’t shaping up to be quite what she expected.
Frances has a crying newborn baby, financial woes, a shiftworker husband and a desperate need to live up to the shining ‘best self’ that Elle promises she can be. She’s also determined to make it to one of Elle’s exclusive wellness retreats.
The Best Bits (according to me)
As a Melbourne girl through and through, I laughed and laughed at this little dig at the insanity of Sydney life:
So Zoe told her [Abi] about life in Sydney. How she was paying half her salary to live in a sunroom in a top-floor Bondi apartment with two other young women, how she worked ten-hour days and more from home, how it took her an hour to get to work most days because of the perpetual roadworks. How expensive it was to even go out for a beer, not that she drank beer anymore, no one did, and how dating was brutal here and she was on the verge of deleting all her hook-up apps because they made her depressed every time she opened them.
‘I fucking love it,’ she said. ‘I’m having the time of my life.’
I could oh-so-relate to Frances’ ‘how the hell did I get here?’ moment as a new mother:
How was she here – like so many women she knew – standing on a sliding scale of never feeling enough or looking enough, of never being light and fun enough, or dark and interesting enough, of never having the hours in the day needed to be an excellent employee, perfect mum, sexy wife, skinny friend, wonderful nurse. How was she up to her neck in maternal drudgery and other people’s shit?
And, of course, you can’t go past a dose of Abi Black’s wonderfully blunt insights into parenting:
So much of parenting, Abi thought, was the particular pain of resisting the urge to slap your children. It starts when they’re little, and they are insisting that shoes do, in fact, go on their hands, not their feet, and there are two minutes until you need to leave the house, and it’s raining. And it evolves through the teenage years to a place like this – where your teenage daughter has been psychoanalysing you with her teenage boyfriend, and she presents you with a list of your shortcomings.
Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.