Title: The Cows
Author: Dawn O’Porter
Publication date: 6 April 2017
Genre: General fiction
Dawn O’Porter’s writing first came onto my radar in 2013 with her YA novel, Paper Aeroplanes, and the sequel, Goose. I flew through them both and their authentic look at how female friendships grow (and sometimes fall apart) made me nostalgic for my teen years.
The Cows is Dawn’s debut adult novel. It is darker, grittier and more unapologetic than her YA stories and its bold cover is a perfect representation of the punch it packs.
Told from multiple perspectives, it is the story of three women all in very different situations. Tara is a single mother whose life falls apart when a video of her goes viral; Cam is an introvert, a prolific blogger and ‘The Face of Childfree Women’; and Stella is grieving the loss of both her twin sister and mother to cancer, while contemplating her own future with the BRCA gene. It is about judgement (of others and of yourself), trolling, female friendships, family, motherhood (and lack of motherhood), finding your voice and making your own path in life (#dontfollowtheherd).
Perfect for fans of Shappi Khorsandi’s Nina Is Not OK and Louise O’Neill’s Asking For It, The Cows is gritty women’s fiction at its best. It is intensely readable and addictive but with a dark edge, flawed characters and a bravery not to shy away from some big topics, such as public shaming on social media. It would be interesting to read this alongside Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed; Tara’s story is a fascinating insight into how it feels to be the person behind a viral video that causes a single mistake, oversight or misjudgement to bring your whole life crumbling down.
With well-developed characters and a good twist that made me audibly gasp, The Cows is a fantastic read. I particularly appreciated the focus on who the characters are as individuals, rather than on who they are in relation to their love interests, friends and families. There is a lot of publicity behind this book and rightly so. I hope it does very well!
Have you read The Cows? Do you want to? Let me know in the comments below.