The Cows by Dawn O’Porter

Note: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


First things first: this is a great read, straight up. Dawn O’Porter has picked out a topical subject matter for the 21st century and pulled in all kinds of themes alongside, the ultimate message being carve your own path and don’t follow the crowd, the herd, the cows!

There are shades of someone we all know in Cam, Tara and Stella, as they read like real people. There’s the influential blogger, the desperate to be a mum and the single mum.

The devices Dawn O’Porter uses are great too, in particular the passages taken from Cam’s forward-thinking opinionated blog. It gets across views that can still split society, but in this case from the perspective of a hugely influential online presence.

There is also the interesting use of social media and technology throughout the narrative and its ever-pervading nature. We see the lengths to which people will go to snoop in other people’s lives, either with purpose like one of our main characters, or through browsing today’s viral sensation. There is however room for the potential positives of social media too, which is nice to see as the internet is clearly not all doom and gloom, as anyone who has met genuinely nice people through social media will know.

The book did its job by me telling myself at various stages that something this ludicrous or outlandish would never happen in real life, only to turn to my phone to scroll through the latest viral ‘scandal,’ which of course can become even more ludicrous in this age of invasiveness. The reader is also given the other perspective, that of the potential victim of a viral campaign, and asks at whose expense is all this ridicule? Is there any dignity left in deciding whether to post something about someone else which could potentially ruin that person’s career or life?

In terms of the debate around parenting and having babies, Dawn O’Porter presents various sides of the argument. I found it especially interesting that in debates around feminism and motherhood, the views of the older generation were included. The parents of Stella and Cam are present throughout the story and there was a view particularly strong passages where we’re hit with another angle of a feminist argument. Namely that amongst the clamour for equal rights, those mothers who may have sacrificed their career a few generations ago to raise a family can sometimes be seen as having damaged the cause for feminism.

The Cows is a hilarious and fast-paced look at our own world, through the perspectives of three women finding their place in modern society. I really enjoyed reading each of their stories and how they intertwined without being forced.


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