Distinctly middle class parents, Maria and Joe have committed all available income to giving their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria finds herself thrust into a high society of champagne-swilling mother-istas she hasn't budgeted for. Saturday morning netball is no longer a fun mother-daughter outing, but a minefield of social politics. While the increasingly neurotic Maria struggles to negotiate the school mum hierarchy, Joe quietly battles a midlife crisis and Kate attempts to grow up as gracefully as possible (without having her life ruined by embarrassing parents). For every woman who has ever felt she may be wearing the wrong shoes, this is a book that will remind you - you're not alone.
One of my goals for 2016 is to catch up on my TBR-pile. I’ve taken on quite a number of requests last year and unfortunately haven’t managed to read and review all of the books yet, so that is definitely something I want to work on in the upcoming weeks. One of those books is Deborah Disney’s ‘Up and In’, which was released by Harper Collins Australia at the end of 2014, and has been part of my TBR-list for quite some time. I requested the book via NetGalley, but was unable to download a review copy that worked. A few months ago, I decided to try again and suddenly it did work; yay! I’ve really enjoyed some other Australian chick lit novels (mainly by Carla Caruso) the past year or so, so looked forward to finally giving this one a chance as well!
Maria has been happily married to her husband Joe for several years and together they have two children, Sarah and Kate. Maria wants her daughters to have the best education there is, so even though they are a middle-class family she is determined to have Kate and Sarah attend Riverton, the most exclusive school in the area. Schools like Riverton come with some specific playground politics, though, and Maria soon finds herself becoming a part of the exclusive world of the rich and popular mums. Before she knows it, Maria is pretending to like things she doesn’t like and spending money she doesn’t have, just to fit in with the other Riverton mothers. But it doesn’t take long for Maria to realise she is losing track of who she really is and might not be setting the best example for her own daughters…
‘Up and In’ is Deborah Disney’s first novel and an engaging and entertaining debut novel which I thoroughly enjoyed. The topic of school ground politics is one that has been tackled by various authors within the chick lit/women’s fiction genre over the past couple of years and I have to admit it’s a topic I find really fascinating, even though I am not a mum myself (yet). I think this novel will be quite relatable for some readers and even if it isn’t, it’s still a great read worth picking up with a captivating storyline and realistic characters.
I easily warmed to main character Maria and really liked her. She's a protagonist I both liked and disliked; feeling for her, but also wanting to kick her sometimes for doing or saying certain things. Deborah Disney's writing style is one I really enjoyed; she managed to hold my attention throughout the entire story and the chapters were of a comfortable and well-suited length. There was a constant switch between the present time and flashbacks from the past, completing the story as I went along. Overall, 'Up and In' is a witty and entertaining read about parenting, school ground politics and being part of the social circle; an engaging and definitely promising debut!