The Cows is a book that surprises. Dawn O'Porter takes our perception of what women should be in terms of traditional views and messes with it, presenting us with a truer, more 21st century vision. I found it challenging in terms of its direction and what it highlights, not its content, and darkly humorous.
O'Porter has chosen three women, the first of these being Tara. Tara is a single mum and career woman, and she is successfully juggling the two roles. She works in a world which is male-dominated and is shown to be handling it at the start of the book, although it is a battle.
Stella is a twin who is faced with a decision which will save her life but may mean that she will lose out on becoming a mother. She has an obsessive personality and is dealing with some pretty big issues with little support. She is in a relationship at the start of the book and has a solid job. But, faced with an ultimatum, things spiral out of control.
Cam is a blogger who has chosen to speak for those women who do not want to have children or to get married. She is representative of female influencers who are happy to live a life where they fulfil their sexual needs from "no strings" relationships and keep their singular identity. Cam does not want to conform with the stereotype of mother and nurturer like her sisters; she is a woman who knows what will bring her happiness and is determined to carve out her own path, regardless of the expectations of others. She is strong and poised and O'Porter does not have her views expressed in the book as radical; to the contrary, she has a voice which is reasonable and rational.
The three women are interconnected by degrees and this is something to be discovered on reading the book. I like what O'Porter does here and the incident at the centre of the book is contentious, involving Tara - again, this is for you to discover - and throws up a whole load of questions into the air, like electrically charged confetti, about privacy and sexuality and how we view these in relation to women.
What I would say is that this novel is not for the prudish among us. One of the subjects which is highlighted is still relatively taboo and not generally discussed in the public forum. This book, however, takes it brazenly into the realms of public discussion, ostensibly to show how easy it is to vilify people for their behaviour, for making a stupid ill-judged mistake. O'Porter shows how the impact of this sharing of someone's else's misjudgement can lead to the wrecking of lives and the extreme disruption to those around them especially family members. That's got to pique your curiosity, doesn't it?
What the book also sets out to do, in some ways, is to emphasise the shared responsibility that we have to treat each other with respect and consideration as it is very easy to take a snapsnot of someone's life and display it to all for entertainment or notoriety but not think about the consequences of doing that. We are all guilty of sharing in a climate that encourages us to poke our nose into everything if we have the inclination but O'Porter shows that this voyeurism can be unsavoury.
I like books that challenge traditional thinking and this does that in a way that is entertaining but which takes nothing away from the message at its core.
Rachel Rating: 4/5 stars
Parts of this review were first published on Reedsy Discovery where I review everything I read. You can check my profile out here.
Parts were also published on my blog below:
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About the Creator
Mum, blogger, crafter, reviewer, writer, traveller: I love to write and I am not limited by form. Here, you will find stories, articles, opinion pieces, poems, all of which reflect me: who I am, what I love, what I feel, how I view things.
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