Book Review: The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

What’s it about?

Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives. Yet an extraordinary event brings them to within touching distance of each other, and one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration. This is a story about judging others and being judged, and finding yourself amidst the noise of modern life.

My thoughts

My gosh. I really enjoyed this book, and I didn’t expect to. I was a mixture of curious and wary when it came to picking it up. Every other celebrity seems to have a novel out nowadays (Fern Britton, Richard and Judy…) and I’m often sceptical as to whether they’d have been published without an existing fanbase. But Dawn O’Porter is an exception to this rule: the lady can write.

This is a story about three women living in London and not knowing each other at all, until an event forges an invisible bond between them. It’s about the follies of online culture, what it means to be a woman in today’s world, and making the right choices. The plot is pretty good and something that could feasibly happen. No spoilers here, but there’s a reason O’Porter is liberal with her application of MailOnline references. However, there were a few bits that had me arching my eyebrow, most notably a pair of police officers called Flower and Potts. That felt like a joke I wasn’t getting; I waited for the punchline or some kind of acknowledgment, but it never came.

Additionally, the characterisation needed a bit of work in my opinion, but I’m being quite picky. The three women seemed to be somewhat homogenous at the start and then very clearly delineated after a chapter or two. Almost as if O’Porter was writing, ‘LOOK HOW DIFFERENT YET THE SAME THESE CHARACTERS ARE.’ This could well be the point- are we modern women just one big Venn diagram?- but it didn’t quite come off for me.

So I’m not sure where Dawn O’Porter was pitching this novel. Perhaps a Nick Hornby-esque tale for the modern thirty-something woman? It’s definitely different, and a nice change from the identikit women’s fiction that line the supermarket 2 for £5 shelves. I would like to read more from O’Porter, and I reckon there probably will be more to come.

Would I recommend it?

Yes, I think so. It’s an interesting take on what it means to be female today, and there are some strong points made here. I know this review sounds a bit harsh, but I really did like it; I just want it to be the best it can be.

The Cows by Dawn O’Porter is published by HarperCollins priced £8.99.

I received an advance copy to review thanks to NetGalley.

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