I love it when a book takes me by surprise. The latest is One Of Those Mothers by Megan Nicol Reed. I hadn’t heard a thing about it before receiving a copy from Allen & Unwin for review (thank you!). The blurb brought to mind Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, and the cover was graced with a recommendation from Charity Norman, so I figured I was getting into a stock-standard domestic noir.
I wasn’t reckoning on just how dark, or just how compelling, One Of Those Mothers could be.
The tight-knit middle class community of Point Heed, Aotearoa, unravels when a local father (name suppressed) is convicted of possessing child exploitation materials. The story is told through a close-third person perspective focused on Bridget, and her husband, Greg. The cast is rounded out by their friends, Roz and Lucy, and respective husbands. All of the couples have kids around the same age, and they have barbecues and nights out and holidays.
Or, at least, they did. There’s some bad blood between Bridget and Lucy, unrelated to the news blurb about the local man’s conviction… or is it?
I was skeptical at first, especially because One Of Those Mothers was told in two timelines (alternating between present day and nine months earlier). I had to eat my skepticism, though, because before a hundred pages had passed, I was hooked. Dual mysteries play out and entwine around each other: who’s the perv? What happened between Bridget and Lucy to destroy their lifelong friendship? It’s all unveiled tantalisingly slowly, and Reed tells the story masterfully.
It barely needs to be said, but you might want to avoid One Of Those Mothers if you’re particularly sensitive to issues around child exploitation and abuse. But otherwise, I highly recommend this fantastic new read!
Buy One Of Those Mothers on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)