Peter and Jane and Mummy Too: The Book. Sort of.

Gill Sims is an extremely successful “mummy blogger” who maintains a Facebook page which presents the trials and tribulations of her family life to the world. It is funny. Very funny. So when I learned she had written a book, I was excited and delighted to receive not one but two copies of ‘Why Mummy Drinks’ for Christmas. Could it be as good as the blog? The short answer is, not quite.

What’s it about?

Ellen is turning 39. Her husband, Simon, is obsessed with gadgets. Her children, Peter and Jane, create chaos and drive her to drink. Ellen likes wine, shoes and reminiscing about times in her life that involved Fun and Frolics rather than refereeing fights over who had the remote first. This is her diary of her year as she approaches forty.

What’s it like?

Funny, sweary, mostly relateable. The diary entries open with a scene familiar to those familiar with the blog: Mummy is making a list of how her life could work…then compares it with how her life really works. For parents of young children, or who remember having young children, this will likely entertain and cause nods of familiarity in equal measure. The pressure involved in try to drag the children out the door to school…the arguments you just cannot win (your child does not care about the threat of scurvy)…and the bliss of relaxing at the end of what may well feel like a very long day indeed, only to reflect that it is, in fact, only Monday – Monday! – and everything you did today will need doing again tomorrow.

Sims captures perfectly the sheer relentless monotony and drudgery that can easily form a large part of a parent’s day and pitches this perfectly to the social media generation. Ellen is constantly distracted by stalking old acquaintances on Facebook, googling ‘simple’ recipes and hairstyles on Pinterest and watching seemingly perfect lives play out on Instagram. Despite the surface simplicity of constant distraction, resentment, giggles and gossip, there’s a heart to this story and, just like Bridget Jones, whose short written style Sims echoes, Ellen eventually has a success and learns a lesson or two.

The plot’s a bit daft, featuring at least one completely ridiculous character, and a bit slim, too, but this is a diary and the fun is found in the details and the nods of recognition for mums caught up in a similar life stage.

Final thoughts

If you love the blog, the odds are good you’ll love this. That said, I have to confess that I didn’t. I found the transposition of Peter, Jane and Mummy to book form a little difficult to enjoy at first as there were so many similarities to the world evoked in the blog, but then significant differences, too, and I wasn’t really interested in the story. (There’s basically a work success, an ex-boyfriend and an offbeat sister-in-law to contend with.) Ellen is more selfish than ‘Mummy’ from Peter and Jane and Mummy, Too, and more judgemental. Or perhaps it is simply the difference between reading glimpses into a life once a day and reading about a whole life over a few days: maybe ‘Mummy’/Ellen hadn’t changed at all, just my reaction to her.

I had almost come to the conclusion that I didn’t really like the book, then I reread a few bits prior to writing this review and decided that I did enjoy it really; I just much preferred the blog. Reading this in small chunks may be best (I read it in a few days as I had lots of reading time while snuggling a not-sleeping toddler) to heighten the enjoyment.

And if you like the sound of ‘Why Mummy Drinks’, then you’ll be pleased to hear that a follow-up, ‘Why Mummy Swears’, will be published later this year.

And you should definitely check out her Facebook page/site if you haven’t already. It’s fab.

‘Why Mummy Drinks’,
Gill Sims,
2017, HarperCollins, hardback