Audio Book Review: More Than A Woman by Caitlin Moran

“A decade ago, Caitlin Moran thought she had it all figured out. Her instant bestseller How to Be a Woman was a game-changing take on feminism, the patriarchy, and the general ‘hoo-ha’ of becoming a woman. Back then, she firmly believed ‘the difficult bit’ was over, and her forties were going to be a doddle.

If only she had known: when middle age arrives, a whole new bunch of tough questions need answering. Why isn’t there such a thing as a ‘Mum Bod’? How did sex get boring? What are men really thinking? Where did all that stuff in the kitchen drawers come from? Can feminists have Botox? Why has wine turned against you? How can you tell the difference between a Teenage Micro-Breakdown, and The Real Thing? Has feminism gone too far? And, as always, WHO’S LOOKING AFTER THE CHILDREN?

Now with ageing parents, teenage daughters, a bigger bum and a To-Do list without end, Caitlin Moran is back with More Than A Woman: a guide to growing older, a manifesto for change, and a celebration of all those middle-aged women who keep the world turning.”

I’m a year older than Caitlin, also from the Midlands, with parents in their 70s and teenage kids and a bigger bum than I had a decade ago, and a To-Do list without end (although I’m not a writer – I’m an accountant and run a construction company with my husband) – but there are enough similarities that I’ve always enjoyed Caitlin’s writing (and her recent podcast chats with Sophie Ellis-Bextor on ‘Spinning Plates’ and Trish and Lorraine on ‘Postcards from Midlife’ ) Consequently I decided to pay good money (I usually blag free books!) for the audiobook of ‘More Than A Woman’ to continue my ‘non fiction books in the car’ activities.

It is so very, very good. Thought provoking, amusing, emotional – a real rollercoaster, in a good way!

It’s written in Caitlin’s trademark style and the audiobook is read by her too. It has laugh out loud moments aplenty. The 5 page ‘to do’ list could have fundamentally been mine (and yes, I do think about it during maintenance sex too!!) The fact that as a middle aged woman who basically has her act together you will be pulled in multiple directions – teenage kids, ageing parents, divorcing friends, friends and family having health crises – on top of running a family, house, social life and keeping down a job.

My husband is an amazing partner and father and does LOADS for the kids – much more than the average male in a relationship (partly due to the logistics of having our own company meaning we can be more flexible with when we both work). But he freely admits that the thinking and the ‘to do’ lists are firmly in my court. Partly this is because I am a total control freak – but also because, as a middle aged woman, just as Caitlin writes, you just do it. I arrived home last week to him in a massive panic as he was trying to cook the kids dinner, whilst logging one on to a Brownie Zoom, whilst waiting for the groceries to be delivered, and trying to find a gumshield and shin pads – all of which he’s been instructed to do, but he did find it stressful to do them simultaneously. (I did laugh a little bit!!)

But as well as laugh out loud moments, and ‘oh my God that is totally me’, there are also really emotional parts too. Caitlin shares a lot about parenting a child with an eating disorder. (Her daughter wanted the story shared to help other families.) It was really moving – and brilliant that there has been a positive outcome for their family. So often middle aged parents are seemingly embarrassed by their children’s mental health issues (even if the teenager is quite prepared to be open about it) but us middle aged and older parents have been brought up to keep schtum about mental health issues, as if brushing it under the carpet will mean it isn’t happening. Therefore positive outcomes are often not applauded – because the issue has never been mentioned in the first place. I’m very lucky that, as yet (with 4 kids I suspect it is firmly ‘yet’ and not ‘if’) we haven’t had to deal with anything like this – but I have learned so much from the book. I’d never thought about how saying ‘Mummy and Daddy just want you to be happy’ could be so much pressure on a child to be happy all of the time and thus not tell you that they’re sad. Sometimes we NEED to be unhappy to process ‘stuff’ and the same goes for kids. It’s really made me think that sometimes you do need to be Pooh sitting next to Eeyore just to be there – not telling the grumpy one to ‘buck the f*ck up’. This too shall pass.

Overall the book made me feel massively empowered! I intend to embrace my hag years with abandon. I will not apologise for being a middle aged woman, I will try not to worry about being too little – or too much (or some days both). And I am grateful for my coven – both in real life and online – who I know have my back every day (as well as having their own 5 page ‘to do’ lists / partners / kids / parents / pets (so many dogs when the kids hit teenage years!) / jobs / volunteering commitments / social lives / other friends / sports / book clubs etc, etc, et bloody cetera!)

We are definitely more than women!!

(And buy this book immediately so we can compare notes – or I’ll buy it for everyone for Christmas!!)

Book Review: Moranifesto by Caitlin Moran

Moranifesto

I should confess to being a big Caitlin Moran fan.  I loved her previous books, and went to see her live when she was touring ‘How To Build A Girl. It was brilliant – and resulted in me having a t-shirt made for a friend that said ‘Never Regret Cheese’ on it – which a) maybe you had to be there to understand and b) is a useful motto to live by!  I laughed a lot at the TV series Caitlin wrote with her sister Caroline – and am properly cross that Channel 4 haven’t commissioned a 3rd series.  I am definitely more conservative (with a big and little c) than Ms Moran – so was slightly concerned that this book might be a bit too right on, left wing and trendy for a 42 year old accountant mother of 4, but I didn’t let that stop me.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

” ‘I’ve lived through ten iOS upgrades on my Mac – and that’s just something I use to muck about on Twitter. Surely capitalism is due an upgrade or two?’

When Caitlin Moran sat down to choose her favourite pieces for her new book she realised that they all seemed to join up. Turns out, it’s the same old problems and the same old ass-hats.

Then she thought of the word ‘Moranifesto’, and she knew what she had to do…

This is Caitlin’s engaging and amusing rallying call for our times. Combining the best of her recent columns with lots of new writing unique to this book, Caitlin deals with topics as pressing and diverse as 1980s swearing, benefits, boarding schools, and why the internet is like a drunken toddler.

And whilst never afraid to address the big issues of the day – such as Benedict Cumberbatch and duffel coats – Caitlin also makes a passionate effort to understand our 21st century society and presents us with her ‘Moranifesto’ for making the world a better place.

The polite revolution starts here! Please.”

The book started with some columns that had already been published – and some of which I’d read – but they were all great.  I particularly enjoyed the ones based around the Olympics of 2012 – as I was reading the book with Rio 2016 as a backdrop.  The book was written pre Brexit – but remembering the summer of 2012 and how everyone was in love with London was even more emotive when contrasted with the problems that the EU referendum has caused with shocking racism and intolerance in the summer of 2016.  It was also published pre the death of David Bowie – but Caitlin’s love for Mr Bowie shines through in many different chapters!

As I mentioned above – I was nervous that the political bits wouldn’t be my bag at all – but this could not have been further from the truth. I would consider myself fairly middling politically (there’s a whole chapter on people thinking this about themselves actually – and analogies with swimming speeds and middle lane drivers!) and I agree with a lot that Caitlin writes about helping others out – and how this is often the way with ‘normal’ people (not smug politicians who grew up at boarding school!).  I am lucky enough to live in a great village outside Birmingham (this is not code for Wolverhampton, it is a North Worcestershire village) and the sense of community there is excellent – with people helping each other out frequently with matters large and small.

I’m all for capitalism and people making money (as long as they pay the appropriate tax on it!) but there also needs to be a place for a welfare system that supports people who need it.  Just because I can pay for (some of, at the moment) my kids to go to private school, doesn’t mean I don’t also believe in the state system – and the same goes for the NHS v private healthcare which we as a family use both of.  I know I’m lucky and have choices – but the husband and I also work damn hard for this ‘luck’ too, and the ‘luck’ means we can be in a position to help others out as well. People who’ve done well for themselves shouldn’t sit in their ivory tower counting their pennies far away from the real world (she says, looking out of the window on holiday at the view of a 7 star hotel………) but should want to ‘put back’ a bit too.  And I think in this, Ms Moran and I have similar views.

Wow – a book review that’s gone a bit political (don’t worry, I’ll be back to chick lit next I promise!!)

So let’s all read the ‘Moranifesto’ and start a polite revolution, if we all do, who knows what benefits we could reap!