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Summary

What do you do when you find the perfect family...and it's not yours?

The only thing Abi ever wanted was a proper family. So when she falls pregnant by an Australian exchange student in London, she cannot pack up her old life in Croydon fast enough, to start all over in Sydney and make her own family. 

It is not until she arrives, with three-week-old Jude in tow, that Abi realises Stu is not quite ready to be a father after all. And he is the only person she knows in this hot, dazzling, confusing city, where the job of making friends is turning out to be harder than she thought. 

That is, until she meets Phyllida, her wealthy, charming, imperious older neighbour and they become almost like mother and daughter. 

If only Abi had not told Phil that teeny tiny small lie, the very first day they met....

©2021 Meg Mason (P)2021 Orion Publishing Group

Critic reviews

"Rare and delightful.... A beautifully crafted novel about female relationships. I couldn't put this book down." (Marie Claire)

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Spoiled by the narration

I loved Sorrow and Bliss, Meg Mason’s first novel and have been waiting for this much delayed Audible narration of You be Mother, her second. What a disappointment as I started to listen! As I persevered I quickly realised what it was. Sorrow and Bliss was read by Emilia Fox in her beautifully nuanced voice. Kristin Atherton is, I’m afraid, is just awful for two main reasons.
Her faults are so grave that it spoils the book and also overshadows some of the other character voices, such as that of Abby the main character herself. I quickly recognised Kristin Atherton as the narrator of the very long The Lost Cafe Schindler which I reviewed recently and found the narration infuriating . Her idiosyncratic intonation which stresses the wrong words and destroys the natural rhythm of the language is destructive., particularly in fiction. The other reason is the Australian accent for the large cast of Australian characters including Abby’s boyfriend Stu which is authentic but does not need to be rendered in such a hideously raucous, loud, ugly way which overpowers and dominates the writing.
This novel has many strengths but it is flawed by characters and situations being needlessly over-exaggerated. Abby had found herself pregnant after a short relationship with her laddish boyfriend Stu who had moved back home to Australia , so when the baby is three weeks old she flies out to Sidney to make a family life with him. Recipe for disaster obviously, but Kristin’s hideously loud, harsh Australian accent makes Stu even more ridiculously the ‘sub-optimum boyfriend’ (as he calls himself) - he’s quite grotesque in his sub optimumness. The same goes for Elaine,. Stu’s mother, whose off the wall ghastliness is made even worse and more incredible than it is on the page by the harshness of the accent.
Meg Mason needed to be subtler about all the perceptive themes in her novel about families and mothers and memories – there’s no need for the undermining grotesquerie. Unfortunately the narration emphasises this failing in the novel. Conclusion: some really good parts but less would have been more. I’m still looking forward to Meg Mason’s 3rd novel – I just hope a different narrator will be chosen.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent

Loved it, such a brilliant portrayal of the struggles and miseries of human experience, but always interlaced with optimism and strength.

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A lovely read :)

I didn't quite know where this was going, but it was a lovely read :)

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So amazing

Meg Mason must never ever stop writing. I loved this one just as much as Sorrow and Bliss and cried and laughed in equal measure. She is so talented.
I thought the auditor of the book was incredible and the accents perfect. Love love love

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You Be Mother

Beautifully crafted and narrated, I dreaded coming to the end.

How do people manage to write such books? I wish I could write.

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Great book, well narrated

This book is beautifully observed and beautifully written. As others have said, it takes a really interesting look at female relationships. However, my reason for writing the review is to strongly disagree with an earlier review of the narrators performance. I am 57 and visually impaired. I have been listening to audiobooks since I was 10 and I am a very harsh critic of narrators. I thought this one did a really good job.

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This is a sad story

Meg Mason’s first book was funny and joyful. This story was
about the worst things that happen in life. Too many for one
group of people. It was very slow and in spite of the occasional
flash of humor there was not enough light with the dark