We live in an interesting era, an age where technology reins supreme. We are constantly glued to our phones, documenting every moment and meal on our Instagram pages, desperate for likes and affirmations from strangers on the internet.
Not only that, there is this immense pressure to be the absolute best version of ourselves at all times: to eat clean (no sugar, definitely no chocolate and not a drop of alcohol), to exercise religiously, to have a full-time job (and an office with a view), the perfect husband and children – the perfect everything, really.
It’s ridiculous when you stop and think about it and Holly Wainwright shows us just how absurd it all really is in her sequel to The Mummy Bloggers, the brilliantly funny How to Be Perfect.
Through a world of fake gurus, green smoothies and bad influencers, How to Be Perfect follows Elle, Abi and Frankie into the cult of self-improvement. Nothing of course is ever as perfect as it seems – these women, who seem to have it all, are actually desperately struggling to keep it all together.
Ell, who once led an army of aspirational mums in The Mummy Bloggers, returns, reinvented as a mountain-top model of serenity with a new band of followers – the Elle-ness warriors. Elle presides over a wellness retreat where women pay a fortune to mimic her extreme lifestyle. Abi is blogging about her chaotic blended family from her falling down farmhouse, trying to keep it together while her ex is building a financial cult in the shed. Frankie has a colicky baby, an absent husband and a desire to be like those fit mums on Instagram.
Each of the trio is searching for answers to their problems in all the wrong places, and it isn’t long before they realise that what they see on their Instagram feeds isn’t always real.
The characters in How to Be Perfect are a riot, instantly recognisable as people we have met before in our day-to-day-lives, or seen on our social media, people who are obsessed with achieving perfection by any means possible. Although a tongue-in-cheek, entertaining satire, the story also deals with some pretty important issues about self-image and self-worth, and the detrimental impact that social media can have on our lives if we allow it to.
Holly Wainwright has an amazing way of writing from these women’s perspectives, whilst simultaneously critiquing their lives and beliefs. The trio are hilarious but they’re victims, too, in a novel that manages to both laugh at contemporary trends while calling out the unfair and unrealistic expectations placed upon women in the 21stcentury.
If you’re looking for a read that is a fun romp but one that will also get you thinking about the world we live in today (including maybe how many times a day you’re posting, or following others), then we highly recommend How to Be Perfect.
Maybe ditch the green smoothie, though, and opt for a glass of red instead. Just don’t take a photograph it.
About the author:
Holly Wainwright is a former-Mancunian Sydneysider who came to Australia as a footloose traveller more than 20 years ago. Since then, Holly has had a long career as a journalist and editor, originally in travel and celebrity magazines and now online. She’s been working in digital media for three years, most recently as Head of Content at Mamamia. She hosts two podcasts: This Glorious Mess and Mamamia Out Loud, has two small children, lives by the ocean and wishes there were four more hours in every day.