This is the very first novel I’ve read within 24 hours. Yes, all 234 pages in one day! I hardly ever read fiction nowadays (mainly because I prefer history and biography), but I simply couldn’t put it down till I turned to the last page.
The story revolves around Sophie and her life in Alpha Land; she reluctantly moved to London from Canada with her husband Michael and three-year old daughter Kaya. Michael had to work long hours leaving his wife and toddler by themselves which made Sophie very lonely and unhappy. Kaya ended up in the best nursery school in the city, Cherry Blossoms, where the kids of the rich and famous attended, and where the mums are always dressed up to the nines for the school runs. Sophie soon finds out that there’s a clique among the mothers, what she calls ‘Alpha Mums’ and she feels like as an outsider therefore she calls herself a ‘Beta Mum.’ With Sophie’s husband being very busy with his new job and not having the time of the day to spend with her and her daughter, much less listen to her personal issues, Sophie turns to the internet and starts a blog, where she could freely express what she’s going through. Overnight Sophie’s blog gains a readership from around the world, even from among her co-parents at Cherry Blossoms, the very same people she talks about in her blog.
The drama that transpired next — from Sophie’s secret correspondence with a man, an avid follower of her blog; the backstabbing and catfights among the mums; the extravagant children’s birthday parties; the parents having affairs; Sophie’s own inner conflict, and the climax of the gripping narrative — are all exhilarating!
This is a book that gives the reader a glimpse into the world of the super-rich, particularly the Notting Hill set — the ‘Yummy Mummies’ as they are famously called. It’s about their desire to raise perfect children, to maintain their lavish ‘instagram-worthy’ lifestyles, and so on. Yet behind the mask, underneath the picture-perfect image they’re trying to project, is a life filled with so much conflict and emptiness, constantly seeking for approval and acceptance, and not having joy and contentment. And sometimes they become too wrapped up in the material things that their life meets a tragic end. The author has done a great job presenting this narrative in an easy and fast-paced manner that the reader has no time to get involved with any of the character except Sophie’s, the main character.
As a Christian and having a different worldview than most people (and I say this in humility thanking God for saving me at a young age), I realised while reading this that the life of the characters in the novel is the ultimate example of what the lifestyle of London’s super rich have turned into — keeping up with the Joneses; marital affairs, high-profile breakups and divorces, and so on. It’s a never ending quest to satisfy their heart’s deepest longing.
I am very much aware that this type of ‘sub-culture’ exists within the top strata of the British society, and it’s far and above the lifestyle of today’s British royalty and aristocracy — the world of mega-yatchs, mega-jets, mega-mansions, etc. Since I’ve relocated to London seventeen years ago, I’ve personally heard from my friends at the health club different stories that are similar, if not exactly the same, as those I’ve read in this novel. I am a Notting Hill resident and have friends who shared with me very controversial details about some of the parents they know at ‘the nursery’ their kids went (my friends’ kids went to one of London’s top nursery school and just like Sophie in the novel, they both felt like an outsider).
The Beta Mum may be a fiction but I know, some of the stories mentioned happened in real life to some people. It may be coincidental but some of the stories is a fact of life for a tiny group of Londoners — the super-rich club.
This is an easy read, very engaging and highly entertaining novel. If there’s only one contemporary fast-paced fiction I’d recommend, it would be ‘The Beta Mum’ hands down. A great debut book from Isabella Davidson (the author’s pseudonym), and I hope it will be a huge success, and the first of many series.
Many thanks to the author, Isabella Davidson, for providing an electronic copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Isabella Davidson’s latest novel, The Beta Mum: Adventures in Alpha Land, is out on the 20th of June (Silverwood Books, £9.99, paperback)