*Just a gentle note, this review may contain spoilers*
Last year, this book was the talk of the town. Billboards everywhere. Everywhere on my social media, especially Instagram. This was a book that was talked about time and time again, I just couldn’t escape it. I kept forgetting (I know, I know) to pick up a copy of the book but when it came out on paperback, I grabbed a copy straight away.
Despite not reading this book, I am a big fan of Dawn O’Porter. I’ve read several of her journalism, notably her columns in Glamour Magazine and found her writing style so interesting and it captivated me. I haven’t read any of her previous books, but through her columns, I feel that I knew her voice, her writing voice, and that carries on through with The Cows.
The book is set around three characters and their stories: Cam, Tara and Stella. They are all independent characters but they entwine together and are involved with each other’s lives. At first, I found the three narratives quite unnecessary, I felt that as if it was too much but once the story starts to develop more, the characters start to develop more and entwine in each of their lives, you start to forget about all of that.
The main plot point that brings the three women together is when Tara masturbates on a train, is filmed by a teenage boy, and has gone viral on the internet. I found this quite an interesting plot, certainly something I haven’t read before and of course, it carries a very important social message. Tara is a woman, most importantly. As the story progresses, that is a big factor: Tara is a woman, she is a mother, she has a really good job, she’s doing well for herself and her daughter, but the fact that she was a woman stayed with me. With other characters, especially Cam, you think: would this story have the same reaction if it was a man? Would everyone look at it differently? Tara, for me, was the most likeable character out of the three. I felt for her a lot more, I felt that I believed her story a lot more and I was hoping and hoping that it would all work out with Jason.
For me, Cam was a character that annoyed me. I found her blog posts annoying and at times a bit preachy but I think that’s what she was supposed to do – annoy you. Stella, for me, is the one character that I could have done without and just kept Cam and Tara’s narratives in the book, but that being said, Stella’s story was the most moving and complex story. I really found the idea of her living without her twin, someone who she grew up with, the other part of her, and how she is dealing with that. All of three of the characters: Cam, Tara and Stella, are all flawed. These are real women and that shows across the book.
One of the most things I love about this book is the use of social media. Social media plays an important role in the book – from Cam and her blog, to everyone’s reactions about Tara on the train… #wankwoman. Social media plays a role even with the character Jason and him not being allowed on social media to write his book – it shows how we deal with it, and without it. ‘It talks about the consequences of something; of not really knowing the full story about a viral video. To me, it’s as if social media is a character in itself in the book.
This a very accomplished book. Dawn has a really distinctive voice and you can tell that she is passionate about these issues in the book. It’s a book that is full of wit and warmth. It’s a book that you can read on holiday or in one sitting but still have an important social message. It’s a book that will guarantee you to gasp and be in shock quite a number of times (including a BIG shocker). If you haven’t read this book yet, then do follow the herd and read it because I’m sure you will love it too.
Have you read The Cows yet? Did you enjoy it? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!