In The Mummy Bloggers, Holly Wainwright has taken serious parenting issues, combined them with echoes of every online scandal over the past few years and thrown them at the colourful canvas that is the world of competitive ‘mummy’ blogging.*
The result is a very funny story that every parent – and parenting blogger – will enjoy. As the author so eloquently puts it:
Motherhood, as Leisel would later write in her blog, smacked her across the face with a wet nappy.
The Mummy Bloggers is the story of three very different women who all have children, write about their lives online, and are competing for a $500,000 cash prize in a blogging competition. They have three months to prove to the judges that they have the biggest, most engaged online audience.
Chaos and lies ensue.
If you’ve ever wanted a behind-the-scenes look at the world of blogging, you’ll love this novel. Holly Wainwright has moved among parenting bloggers for several years, most recently as Head of Entertainment at Mamamia.
Personally, I think she’s nailed the all-consuming beast that is blogging – a strange mixture of art, marketing, tech, celebrity and mundane, everyday life.
I also really enjoyed this book – I read it two days, staying up waaaaay past my bedtime on the second day to find out who won!
Meet the ‘Mummy’ bloggers
Leisel – the full-time working mother blogger
Leisel is the only one of the 3 women who must earn money to support her family. She works full-time as a women’s magazine editor while her husband cares for their 3 small children in their tiny 2-bedroom Sydney flat.
Leisel blogs on her phone – late at night when the kids are asleep – and in the snippets of time she can carve out during her busy work day.
She started writing online to connect with other women, to give herself an outlet and provide a space to talk about what nobody seemed to discuss – started with her own miscarriage. Her followers are thousands of other working mothers who share her guilt, exhaustion, confusion and anger at trying to ‘have it all’.
This line really resonated with me:
Leisel now knew that money could buy something that was definitely worth having – time.
Abi – the eco-parenting blogger
Abi is the ‘Green Diva’, living off her divorce settlement with her girlfriend and their 4 kids on a farm near Daylesford. She’s embraced the stereotype of loud-mouthed organic hippy and boosts her engagement by mobilising her audience against ‘Big Pharma’ and towards natural, eco-friendly living.
But Abi – with 4 fully vaccinated kids and packets of Twisties hidden at the back of the cupboard – is a liar:
Abi was the Doctor’s daughter. She knew every bit of this was bullshit. But she also knew that this was the stony path to the next level for her blog. Where controversy went, numbers followed.
She was going to win this thing.
Elle – the fashionable wife and mummy blogger
Elle is ‘Stylish Mumma’ – polished to perfection in her custom-built Brighton white-and-glass box with 2 perfect little boys and her perfect husband… who also happens to be Abi-the-Green-Diva’s ex-husband.
Under the guise of helping them be their best selves, the Stylish Mumma leverages her audience’s sense of inadequacy and aspiration for her own gain:
Her tribe needed to live and breathe that fairytale so they could believe that one day they too would have a kitchen with a spray tap and a Thermomix, even if they’d grown up with a shitty dad and currently made do with a stick blender.
Her entire life is meticulously curated for the camera, and she urges her followers to do the same. Elle’s regular ‘Helpful Wednesday’ posts include tips such as:
Always take your gym selfie BEFORE you start your workout.
Of course, what she doesn’t bother to tell her audience is that she doesn’t maintain the illusion of perfection by herself – she employs a full-time assistant to run her social media and act as nanny to her children.
A final word on parenting blogging
In her acknowledgements, Holly Wainwright thanks ‘parents who do share their lives online’:
It’s a gift. There was a time when mothers had to shut up and smile. Now, telling the stories that allow other women to feel just a little more normal, more connected and understood is no small thing. ‘Mummy bloggers’ or not, the lives of countless women around the world are a little less isolating because of you.
As a parenting blogger of 4+ years over at Seeing the Lighter Side, I know that’s why I do it.
* This is not to say that all parenting bloggers are competitive, because we’re not… most of the time… very much. Okay, maybe a little. But mostly we’re just a very supportive bunch who love to have a good laugh.
Disclosure: I received a copy from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.
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