Anyone who has ever aspired to be a writer will have heard of Dawn O’Porter. Her columns for Glamour and Stylist were holier than the bible to young women and her Twitter feed is the go-to for no-nonsense snippets of 280 characters.
This not-giving-a-crap attitude is woven (in a lot more than 280 characters) into her first ‘grown-up’ novel, The Cows. Following three very different women (Tara, Cam and Stella) and their stories of navigating life in the digital age, Dawn O’Porter tackles the issues of feminism, social media, trolling and motherhood in 435 pages.
If you needed anymore convincing, here are 5 reasons why you should give The Cows a read…
It takes blogging seriously
All three women in the novel have jobs within the creative industry. Tara is a documentary film maker, Stella is the PA of a photographer/ author and it is refreshing to meet Cam, a full-time blogger who is portrayed as a self-made success story and is taken seriously for her honest opinion pieces.
It is a breath of fresh air to see blogging portrayed as a legitimate career path, especially in a character such as Cam who is opinionated, headstrong and in her 30s; rather than the stereotypical teen blogging solely about fashion and beauty.
It explores what it means to be a woman
As Cam very rightly says: ‘Women’s rights are a delicate subject. There is one fight – feminism – but there are many different types of women and pleasing them all is impossible’.
It is clear O’Porter uses her characters to reinforce that all women are different, and the novel’s overall message – that can be found in the empowering tagline ‘Don’t Follow the Herd’ – lets us know that we shouldn’t be ashamed of who we are or what we want.
Whether you relate more to Tara, Cam or Stella, all three characters explore what it means to be a woman. Whether you want, don’t want or can’t have children, whether you’re focusing on your career or dealing with the negative effects of social media; O’Porter tackles all issues facing women in the 21st Century.
It deals with the Digital Age
Living in the world of social media, trolling has sadly become a part of the internet. This is an issue that is cleverly portrayed by O’Porter when one character becomes a troll herself. The realisation of why she is posting these horrible comments online shows the reader how trolls are often normal people dealing with genuine problems and heartache of their own.
The Cows also touches on what it means to go “viral” on social media – an issue that wouldn’t have even existed a decade ago – and how it can really impact someone’s life. All in all, Dawn O’Porter is teaching us to be kinder online, something that is definitely needed right now.
It embraces female friendships
Although the book explores romantic relationships in their complexity, it also embraces the importance of female friendships; good and bad.
From the connection that modern day pen pals Tara and Cam have when they first meet, to Tara’s oldest school friend Sophie who deserts her in her time of need; The Cows emphasises the power that comes with being surrounded by people that have your back.
It shows the power of real-life connections
In a world where we’re always on our phones, it seems almost impossible to believe that we’re so easily connected to people IRL. From following the three women individually throughout the book, you can see how their paths will inevitably cross – even though they come from completely different worlds.
The lesson taught through these unexpected connections is that you never know who is going to come into your life and how – even if you don’t have much in common – they can improve your life for the better.