Fans of Nicola Moriarty’s special brand of storytelling found in last year’s debut, The Fifth Letter, will be delighted with the latest from Jaclyn and Liane Moriarty’s little sister. Those Other Women is a feel-good novel that provides a refreshing and funny take on modern motherhood and non-motherhood.
When Poppy is unceremoniously ditched by her husband Garrett for her best friend, it only gets worse when the smug couple get pregnant straight away. It’s not that Poppy wanted children – she most definitely didn’t – but neither did Garrett, or that’s what he’d always said, anyway. Stung by the humiliation and annoyed at the unfair demands of the mothers at work, Poppy and her new best friend, the mysterious Annalise, start up a community for other dedicated non-mothers.
But the group, ‘non-mothers of Parramatta’ or NOP as it becomes known, is seen as a rival by the more established community of MOP (Mothers of Parramatta). Things start to get out of hand when Poppy is overwhelmed by the hordes of new members attracted to her group.
At first, it’s just some non-mothers meeting for a few drinks and chatting on Facebook, venting about what they perceive as the mothers who take over cafes with their unruly broods or demand special treatment at work, leaving early to take their kids to appointments while their childless colleagues pick up the slack. But soon rivalry between the two groups flares up to outright suburban warfare.
Some members of NOP take their resentment too far, harassing the mothers and their children, while the mothers are outraged by what they see as the unnecessary aggression of the NOPs. When a mole is discovered in the ranks of the NOP group, Poppy must find out who it is before things spiral further. She must also find out who Annalise really is and what dark secret she is hiding. All unravels on a pleasure cruise in a riotous climax.
Those Other Women is by turns funny and thought-provoking as Moriarty tackles the hot theme of mothers versus non-mothers. Ultimately, both groups are brought together by their common womanhood.
‘Why do we tear each other down?’ says one character. ‘Why don’t we support one another?’
The warring sides ultimately realise they have more in common than not, with the serious issues faced by all women outweighing all else. ‘A little empathy is all that’s needed,’ are the wise words of another character. Mothers and committed non-mothers will love this story that tells both sides with good-humoured distance by a keenly perceptive author.
Nicola Moriarty lives in Sydney’s northwest with her husband and two small (but remarkably strong-willed) daughters. She is the younger sister of bestselling authors Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty. In between various career changes, becoming a mum and studying at Macquarie University, she began to write. Now, she can’t seem to stop.