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Sad Mum Lady by Ashe Davenport

A review by Nalini Haynes

Ashe Davenport is the titular sad mum lady. She has childhood trauma coming to the fore while struggling with post-natal depression. It sounds like a recipe for a depressing, challenging book. For the most part, however, this book is hilarious. Each chapter is an anecdote strung together to form a nonsequential story arc.

Ashe struggles with depression and isolation while talking to animals in the zoo, reaching out – with mixed success – to other mums, and challenging a fine. Because, she said, her phone was on her lap while she was driving but she wasn’t using it.

The emotional arc

Where a novel has an emotional arc leading to the climactic plot scenes, Ashe begins with laugh-out-loud humor and builds to something darker. We glimpse her struggles with anger management and depression resulting from her childhood. She travels several towns over to find a support group that won’t impact her daily life – except, you know, for the travelling bit. And we sit with Ashe while her period is late. She waits, worries, and starts to wonder about another baby. So human, so relatable.

The verdict

I just realized – after having received and read this novel – that Emma requested it. I’m so used to books going directly to the reviewer during pandemic restrictions that I hadn’t checked. So kudos to Ashe Davenport and Allen & Unwin for producing a book I wouldn’t have requested but that sucked me in: first enticing me to start reading, then compelling me to finish, in two days. While I had a break from reading, I went for a walk. Pondering the book – because it wasn’t letting me go – I thought it’s the ideal book for a new mum who can only read in short spurts. Reading a chapter feels like a few minutes with a contemporary, almost like having coffee with a fun friend. A friend who is not sanctimonious about the joys of motherhood but who gets real and tells outrageous stories. I highly recommend Sad Mum Lady, and wish I could have read it when I struggled through the mire of post-natal depression.

The verdict

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9781760877637
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Format: paperback, 256 pages
Released: 2020
Subject: Humour

Sad Mum Lady: a grey rabbit soft toy lies face down in a container of water

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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