The Beta Mum: Adventures In Alpha Land is contemporary women’s fiction about a set of competitive mothers from West London.
Sophie and Michael relocate to London with their young daughter Kaya. Using the services of a London nursery consultant, they secure a place for their daughter at Cherry Blossoms, one of the finest nurseries in the area. On the first day of term Sophie faces a high powered group of ‘yummy mummies’.
Attempts to make friends and fit in fall flat, and, with Michael working long hours, Sophie is very lonely. She turns to the internet and starts a blog, where she can vent her frustration about the ‘alpha mum’ clique. Calling herself a ‘beta mum’, Sophie’s blog gains a readership from around the world.
I enjoyed the drama the mums created, as they reminded me of my own experiences at the school gates; the extravagant birthday parties, the parents who had affairs and the over-aggressive class parent rep had me nodding along in recognition.
With the strong blogging theme in the book, the author uses a range of blog posts, blog comments and e-mails to move the story forward. This style, by definition, reports events rather than showing actual scenes, so can leave little room for the reader to get to know the characters and feel involved in their lives.
I liked the connection I felt as a mum at the school gate, and can see these events working well as blog posts, but I didn’t think they worked as well in a longer novel; I thought they should have been interspersed with actual narrative rather than forming the main part of the book. However if you want a fast paced book which dips its toe into the world of the ‘yummy mummies’ of West London, filled with gossip and designer labels, then this book is for you.
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Here, it isn’t the battle of who has the Rolls-Royce of strollers…these children actually roll in Rolls-Royces!
When 33-year-old Sophie Bennett moves from a sleepy suburb of Toronto to glitzy West London, she doesn’t know where she has landed, Venus or Mars. By a stroke of good luck, her three-year-old daughter Kaya attends Cherry Blossoms Nursery, the most exclusive nursery in London – hence the world – where she meets a sea of Alpha mums: Super Successful, Super Skinny and Super Rich. There, not is all as it seems, and she has to fight against the lure of a cult, a two headed dragon and Mumsolini’s dictatorship.
When Sophie struggles to fit in and starts to feel deeply lonely, she starts an anonymous blog, The Beta Mum, dissecting the lives of the Alpha Mums, especially Kelly’s, the blonde, beautiful and bitchy class rep who constantly makes her feel like a second class citizen. When Sophie’s marriage starts to falter, she engages in an email relationship with one of her readers. But then, one of her blogs goes viral and her blog becomes more and more successful; how long will it be until they discover her true identity? Is her marriage strong enough to survive her reader’s advances? And will she ever fit in with the Alpha Mums?
About the author
She started The Beta Mum during the six-month Faber Academy writing course. Prior to starting to writing career, she worked for a Nobel Prize-winning humanitarian organisation and as a doctor for the National Health Service. She grew up on four continents before settling down in London fifteen years ago. She currently lives in west London with her husband and her two small children.