Candice: A while a go Phil and I went to a West Midlands writers event in Worcester where Kate Long was one the speakers. An interesting lady who had obviously been around the block of writing with her first book being made into a film.
Phil bought ‘Queen Mum’, tale of two neighbours, their differing lifestyles and approaches to parenting and the impacts when one appears on a national reality TV show.
Juno seems perfect to the outside world, with two well behaved girls and an arty husband. Stay at home mum Juno spends her day preparing healthy food and planning her girls lives’ so they get the best of everything. Next door lives Ally with her son who is going off the rails, a uncomfortable relationship with her husband and a terrible history of losing a child, run over when she isn’t looking.
Introduce the show ‘Queen Mum’ and in comes Kim, blue collar mum with two teenage lads and a husband who treats her as the house skivvy. Food is always fast and everyone just does their own thing.
In front of the TV cameras and everything starts to fall apart as Juno’s history comes out – she is not as perfect as she seems, her name isn’t even Juno. Ally is struggling with her own battles, labeled as the ‘woman who lost a child’ and trying to give her son and husband space when she still worries about everything they do in case she looses them too.
I have to say that I thought Juno needed her comeuppance, she was annoying in her perfection and when her one daughter suddenly becomes the bad kid at school then she learns that you can’t control everything.
But there is more than that when her whole world becomes unraveled as Kim, who goes on to win the show, gets all the tabloid fame and Juno is vilified for her approach. Eventually she even loses her husband.
Published in 2006 the world has changed since the time of early reality TV, ‘Wife swap’ etc. Things could have been alot worse with Social Media ! It picks up on the truths and pulls apart the lies in everyone’s lives leaving you not sure who is right or wrong.
I am not sure what Kate was trying to say in this story as none of the characters are perfect, but I think it is a learning that we all can’t be ‘Queen Mum’ but I have to say I didn’t really care as it was just an enjoyable read, and I had the luxury to read it on holiday I was able to submerse myself in their world better than I would at home.
And I struggled to read it at some times because I could see which way Ally’s story was going and that is a personal fear of mine, one distraction and your child is under the wheels of a car. I’ll be keeping Erin very close from now on. I’ll also stop trying to be the perfect mum!