This is the second Nicola Moriarty book I’ve read and even though she is probably better known as Liane Moriarty’s sister, her work is more like a poor cousin. It must be hard to be endlessly compared to your more successful sister but I suppose that’s the risk she takes in writing such similar suburban stories without the deft touch that Liane displays.
Poppy, Annalise and Frankie all work for Cormack Millennial Holdings. Poppy is adamant she doesn’t want children and she thought her husband felt the same way. So she’s shocked when he and her best friend, Karleen, announce they’ve been having an affair and they’re going to have a baby. Annalise, who is happily child-free as well, steps into the vacancy left by Karleen and soon she and Poppy are spending all their time together, playing on the same soccer team, drinking at the pub and setting up a private Facebook group for women who don’t want children where they can vent about mothers who think they own the world.
Frankie is a mother of two with more on her plate than she can handle and a husband who doesn’t pull his weight. And even though she’s a member of a private Facebook group for mothers, she joins Poppy and Annalise’s group under a pseudonym where she enjoys pretending to be child-free. It’s one of the few pleasures in her busy life.
When the Facebook group for mothers gets wind of the non-mothers’ group and that they’ve been encouraging their members to stand up to mothers they think are lording their parental status over them, a game of tit for tat that starts online moves out into the real world. And when a blog post written anonymously appears, it’s clear that there’s a mole in Poppy and Annalise’s private Facebook group. And just like that, the women are at war.
If the characters in this book were teenagers, the things that they do might have been understandable but coming from grown women, they are petty, catty and juvenile. As a result of that, none of the characters are really people you want to spend time with. Because Poppy’s husband betrayed her, we’re supposed to be on her side but she’s not that interesting as a character. Annalise’s story is probably the more remarkable one but the way it is executed lets the whole book down terribly. And when Frankie’s kids go missing because of a missed message, it starts to feel very similar to Truly, Madly, Guilty, Liane’s book released two years before Those Other Women.
The story is supposed to be a commentary on how women should support each other regardless of their individual circumstances but the sisterhood is done a disservice here. The book starts slowly, the characters lack complexity and it all just goes on way too long without the poetic ending it needs to justify being forced to spend so much time on it.
I get the feeling that this is a book that will appeal to mothers because they will recognise their lives reflected on the page and the judgements they are constantly subjected to. I just wish it was a better tribute to them.
*First posted on Goodreads 17 December 2020