What happens when your experience of motherhood is nothing at all what you hoped for, but everything you always feared?
‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’
Blythe Connor doesn’t want history to repeat itself. Violet is her first child and she will give her daughter all the love she deserves. All the love that her own mother withheld.But firstborns are never easy. And Violet is demanding and fretful. She never smiles. Soon Blythe believes she can do no right – that something’s very wrong. Either with her daughter, or herself.
Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining it. But Violet’s different with him. And he can’t understand what Blythe suffered as a child. No one can. Blythe wants to be a good mother. But what if that’s not enough for Violet? Or her marriage? What if she can’t see the darkness coming?
Mother and daughter. Angel or monster? We don’t get to choose our inheritance – or who we are . . .
Read some great reviews from our Preview readers here:
This gripping tale is told by Blythe, narrator and main character, who makes it clear right from the beginning that there is more than one side to the story. The present-day is interwoven with significant events in the past so that the reader is left to interpret the connections and influences across the generations and to search for clues in the past for what was unfolding in the present. The nature or nurture dilemma is brought to the fore in the exploration of a mother’s instinct and what it means to be a mother. Is it possible to make conscious decisions to be a different person, a different type of mother or is our path predetermined by our past? Difficult moments of the early days of motherhood are described in such a real way that I could relate to them from my own experience and yet there was a psychological tension constantly simmering under the surface that told a different more shocking story. I was surprised to find my views oscillating and my loyalties challenged throughout the book and I was compelled to continue reading in hope of finding out the truth. A book for lovers of suspenseful drama. – Karin, NSW, 5 Stars
Read this book in two days, an addictive tale with richly written characters. – Deanne, VIC, 5 Stars
A mother knows when something is wrong with her child, often before anyone else has picked it up. One of the first lessons a mother must learn is to follow this instinct. What happens when she doesn’t? What impact can it have on her, her family and those around them?? What happens when she struggles against her knowledge and no-one will listen?? A mother’s struggle begins when she pushes the child from her body and continues as she pushes that child to be all that they can and for the world to see them for what they are. What happens when that child (and the world) pushes back?? This is a challenging novel that drags you into one mother’s world. Her insecurity about her ability to mother, her fears of perpetuating her own mother’s example, her struggle to accept her role and what she sees in her own child and her search for support in a world that won’t (or can’t) listen. – Lee, ACT, 5 Stars
While found it a little hard to get around the characters in the beginning I slowly began to immerse myself in the story as it unfolded. Complex themes abounded in this novel and thought-provoking situations. By halfway through I found myself racing through the pages to see how it could end. Was not disappointed. Looking forward to another novel by this author. – Tracy, WA, 4 Stars
The Push is written in the voice of a mother speaking to her husband, the father of her children. I found it a little confusing to start with because I could not work out who she was talking to. I was slightly annoyed that the husband was never named, he was always referred to as “you”. I could relate to the mother in some aspects, as a mother myself, but I had a much more normal upbringing than she had. The story focuses on the daughter and I found the storyline really intriguing and the book was hard to put down. As the mother of two young sons, I found a couple parts of the story confronting and the feeling stayed with me long after I had finished the book. – Melanie, SA, 4 Stars
The Push by Ashley Audrain is definitely a page-turner. It is a story of love and self-doubt. Can a mother’s love conquer feelings of doubt? Is what Blythe seeing actually true or is her mind and past playing tricks on her? – Heather, NSW, 4 Stars
This was such an engrossing read and after the first few chapters, I was hooked and struggled to put it down. I loved how there were a number of tough issues and topics highlighted throughout the book such as mental health, child abuse/neglect, relationships, parenting and infidelity, and that they were written so well. The characters were also written well and I was easily able to connect with them especially Blythe. Blythe’s raw, intense and somewhat controversial experience of motherhood was actually very refreshing and made this a great psychological, domestic drama that I really enjoyed reading. Tense, emotional, thought-provoking and horrifying in places, The Push is definitely a book that’s not to be missed in 2021! Thanks so much for a wonderful novel! – Jennifer, WA, 4 Stars
The Push gives a different perspective of motherhood and the impact on relationships that is not often written about. This book intrigues you from the beginning and takes you on an emotional roller coaster to the last page. It also brings up the debate around the impacts of nature versus nurture and how this shapes the people that we become. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others to read. However, as a mother, it will definitely pull at your heartstrings. – Meaghan, ACT, 4 Stars
The story looks at the way Blythe deals with parenting her children. To understand the book looks at the relationship between Blythe’s mother, Cecilia, and her own mother, Etta. Mental illness is the catalyst in Cecilia’s initial want of the city life and a career. This is then short-lived when she becomes pregnant. Her inability to accept her own child and leave her behind then has a flow-on effect on Blythe when she becomes a mother to Violet. Her feelings are confused and she struggles through early childhood with her and often suspects Violet is different from other children, almost vindictive. With the arrival of her next child, Sam, Violet seems to become a loving sister. A major incident then occurs in their lives. Blythe loses her marriage to Fox – the thing that she held close to her heart. He pursues a new relationship and fatherhood with Gemma. Violet is pivotal in these relationships. Friendships develop and are then broken. Violet’s behaviour is not all it seems. Blythe struggles on through her life and eventually, her feelings about Violet are taken seriously. A good read! – Lisa, SA, 4 Stars
Blythe knows the women in her family are different. She witnessed this in her own upbringing. It is not until Blythe has a daughter, Violet, and despite her determination to be everything to Violet that her own mother was not, Blythe soon questions whether the family trait is something she has control over. Can such a small child really have a calculated, evil nature? This exploration of the bad seed, or nature versus nurture is not a new theme. Think We Need to Talk About Kevin, or from an older sibling’s viewpoint My Sister Rosa. These books examine the guilt felt in not being able to protect others from the child, and the frustration when no one believes you. I was intrigued by the battle of wills between the young Violet and her mother Blythe. I find the theme fascinating, but I wasn’t as gripped by this incarnation as I’d hoped to be. Many however were. As Blythe narrates events she slips between her own story, as well as her mother’s and grandmother’s, and this is sometimes hard to follow when the first-person is used to describe other’s stories. By persisting through this style choice, my engagement increased, and I wished to discover what happens with Violet? – Suzanne, VIC, 3 Stars
Although I haven’t finished the book I am finding it strangely captivating. Wanting to be repulsed by the characters but instead keen to read more on what made them who they are. Far better read than I was expecting. – Tracey, NSW, 3 Stars
The Push could have been – should have been – one of the most powerful books I have read in recent times. It was certainly a beautifully written exploration of how our ancestor’s behaviours can impact our behaviours, from mother to daughter, although whether by nature or nurture is not addressed. Additionally, Audrain provides a heartfelt description of the difficulties experienced by women who do not naturally bond with their babies. However, for me, the book was sadly impacted by two factors. I accept that the copy I received to review was an uncorrected ARC, I can only hope that the plethora of errors I encountered while reading will have been addressed in the final version. However, I’m certain the biggest difficulty I experienced in reading the book will not have been addressed, the lack of identification via chapter headings of which character was front and centre in that chapter. Having said that, Audrain achieved her aim of drawing the reader into that disconcerting place where you find yourself wondering if Blythe is imagining things or are her beliefs frighteningly true. A psychological/domestic noir thriller that will, overall, grab and hold you to the very end. – Marcia, SA, 3 Stars
The book is eminently readable. The storyline contains a parental dilemma that will send shivers up any parent’s spine. However, I felt that I wanted more from the story, the plot, the drama. The protagonist did not come across as particularly relatable, nor did the book invoke in me a strong connection to her. I felt her character was two dimensional at best. The book could have been absolutely gripping, but just fell a bit off the mark, turning what could have been an absolute page-turner/finish-it-in-an-afternoon read to a mildly interesting story. I also was not a fan of the ending which was very abrupt and for me, did not bring closure to the story. I wouldn’t call it a cliff hanger but more of a door slamming shut in your face! All up, I would recommend if you are after an easily readable book. – Wendi, VIC, 3 Stars
A debut novel that really draws you into a story which is dark, dramatic, gripping and a definite page-turner. The story of a mother, motherhood, children and the scary fact that all is not well. The dysfunction of a family, the abuse of past relationships, mental health and breaking out of what you have always known. It has all that and more. I found this book intriguing but at some points hard to read, you know that these things happen in the world we live in but we are often immune to it. That makes it somewhat scary to read as the context of the story can be and to me is very uncomfortable reading. But if you like a good psychological thriller that has hard reading content then you will love this book. I, myself found it took me a while to read as I had to leave it and read something a bit more light-hearted just to take me away from the drama of it all. Not a book I’d normally read but it was well written and a great debut for a new author. I will be interested to see what Ashley Audrain writes next. – Donna, TAS, 3 Stars