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Monday, March 07, 2011

Book Review: Mia Culpa by Mia Freedman

Admittedly, I was a bit late to the party in discovering Mia Freedman the 'writer'.  

A couple of years ago, The Sun Herald mysteriously started being delivered to my house. I hadn't ordered one. It was just there on the front lawn one Sunday. (Thought it was a one-off, but I got free newspapers for about four months - how cool is that?) Anyway, I picked it up, flicked open the magazine inside and was instantly hooked on Mia's writing. Up until that point, I had thought of Mia as a former magazine editor who'd dabbled in some tv. I had no idea she could write. Me + rock = living under it.

Since then, whenever I read her column, I will often laugh out loud (which, like last week, completely amuses my 8yr old - "Why are you laughing so much, Mum?"). In my (humble) opinion, Mia's writing is witty, relatable, intelligent and honest. Everything I look for in a writer, and I'm thoroughly entertained by her words.

I later went on to discover Mamamia, and although I'm not a regular reader there today (there's just not enough time and there are so many great blogs to read out there!) I do still pop in on occasion. 

Mia has her critics. In fact, I've seen some pretty derogatory remarks written about Mia and her writing in the past (especially over the last year). There was that blow up over Mia's interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, for example. By some standards, it apparently wasn't hard-hitting enough - full of 'fluffy' questions, some said. Funny, I kind of felt the point of having Mia conduct the interview was to see the 'real' Julia. When it comes to finding the personal side of our current PM, I couldn't think of anyone better suited to the job. Besides, not all of us want to read heavy political pieces filled with information on party policies. (Yawn). And as far as I'm aware, Mia has never referred to herself as a hard-hitting political journo anyway (God knows we have enough of those).

Some of her critics have gotten personal. I once saw an argument escalate over whether Mia's teeth were real or not after she'd published a video on her blog. (And for the record, my friend who is a dentist thinks they're real.) And recently there was a whole thread of terribly personal, inappropriate and just plain rude comments left on a book review (since removed). Tall-poppy syndrome perhaps? 

Look - don't get the wrong idea reading this. I'm not here as one of Mia's she-can-do-no-wrong fans. Do I agree with everything Mia writes on her blog (soon to be website), Mamamia for example? Nope. In fact, in my first ever comment on the site, I disagreed with Mia's opinion on one particular post. (But I did disagree in a very polite way. ;) ) Am I, however, a fan of her writing in general? Yes. Do I think her writing is entertaining? Absolutely. And Mia's new book, Mia Culpa - confessions from the watercooler of life, proves yet again that Mia has the ability to tap in to the minds of Gen X and Gen Y women in particular, and just like I did with her last book (Mama Mia: a memoir of mistakes, magazines and motherhood), I found her latest offering entertaining, funny and something I could relate to.

Here, Mia talks about writing and her new book:

In Mia Culpa, Mia covers a wide range of topics that she discusses with the help of tapping in to the opinions of her friends, her Mamamia readers and Twitter followers. Subjects that range from knowing when you're 'done' having kids; to the differences between men and women; to talking to your kids about sex for the first time (something I'm still ducking and weaving around because I am a CHICKEN!); to single life; to pubic hair (oh, yes siree - nothing is off-limits). Mia covers all of these topics and more in this book, writing in her usual candid and chatty way. 

If you're a fan of Mia's writing, and read a lot of her stuff, then you'll no doubt recognise a fair bit of the subject matter in Mia Culpa, with much of the book reworked and reshaped from her favourite weekly newspaper magazine columns and Mamamia posts. It's possible this will bother/disappoint some readers. Rest assured though, there's definitely some new stuff in there too, and linking the subjects together gives them a new life, in my opinion.

I found it a light-hearted, easy read and personally enjoyed revisiting subjects from her old columns. It's very much mostly an upbeat book (a little different to her memoir) that feels more like a conversation with the writer than anything else - even if Mia is the one doing all the talking! - and is guaranteed to supply you with a few laughs and some great conversation starters for you and your girlfriends next time you all catch up. ;)


Publisher: Penguin
RRP: $29.95


Ms Styling You said...

Hi Jodie, I just finished Mia Culpa too and I love your review. What gets up my goat are the critics. Seriously this is a sad nation that as soon as someone is successful that we can't just be happy for them. I'm in awe of how Mia has been able to take a blog and grow it into a business that would work a whole lot better around her family than her previous careers.

Donna @ NappyDaze said...

Great review! I'm a fan of Ms Mia as well, and have been fascinated by her for years. Her style of writing is so easy to enjoy and while I too never seem to have the time to read her blog every day, I try to ensure I at least read her column on Sundays because I know its always going make me laugh out loud or concur with her wise (witty!) words.

I remember in my earliest blogging days she'd written a column about Mummy Bloggers and I excitedly sent her an email to say I'd just embarked on this scary journey too. She took the time to reply and wished me luck, and I still appreciate her generosity in doing that! It helped me forge on when I thought I might just be wasting my time. So if you read this, THANK YOU MIA for lighting the fire of creativity within x

Denyse said...

Hi Jodie, great review .. Great author to review.
I will always "bless" the day I stumbled upon the blog called mamamia. Yes, I'd known of Mia's working life and had bought the mags she edited .in 2002 she replied my email sent to Cosmo when I talked of body issues & that I was outside the demographic of her readership. Her warm reply and total respect for me via her comments locked me into "unless Mia is found out to be a fraud I'm a 100% supporter"
Fast F'wd to 2008 and quite a time of personal family challenges ..I was almost 60,caring for sick hub, about to retire from full time teaching after 4o years...on-line there was a world I could be part of without leaving home & mamamia was "hit" by me. Slowly & surely I read & waited ..then connected for the first time. It was after this & other feedback via MM that I joined in regularly. Life soured again for my hub & me in 2010 & the MM community & Mia embraced me with words of comfort. Since then I have met MMers IRL , now I tweet and late 2010 I began to Blog.
I have read Mia's books ..but I love Mia's outlook on life more..she connects..listens..communicates brilliantly & I owe her much...which is why I am so pleased to comment here today Jodie!! Thanks D xx

ABS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BS said...

Your history of finding Mia is total deja vu for me, except that I had to buy the newspapers. There are so many posts and now too many comments to fully read it all.

Following MM has led me to other blogs. One such blog is Mummy-Mayhem. The authoress of this is probably as interesting, talented and entertaining as Mia, and her blog has the advantages (at the moment) of less comments and posts to cover. Also, being the parent of three boys (albeit they are now men), I can relate to the traumas and joys of her family life.

Thanks Jodie,

Jodie at Mummy Mayhem said...

Thanks all.

BS - Thank YOU! What a gorgeous thing to say. I'm completely honored. Not worthy, but honored nonetheless. :)

Crinau said...

Thanks for the review of Mia's new book. Will have to get a copy & then find time to read it.

Kymmie said...

Thanks for the great review Jodie. I too am a fan of Mia although I don't always agree on what's on her blog/website, but I still love the perspective given, the way she writes (and the many comments that follow). It just goes to show that you have to be tough to write about what she writes about. And you have to care less. Which is probably why I write a happy little blog where only a few readers respond. The bigger the poppy, the higher the fall. Well, that's me anyway! I don't think I could handle the criticism! But I do want to read this book (and her first one too). xx