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The Cows

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  23,153 ratings  ·  1,419 reviews
COW n. /ka?/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

The Cows is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice.

It’s about friendship and being female.
It’s bold and brilliant.
It’s searingly perceptive.
It's about never following the herd.
And ever
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 1st 2017 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Average rating 3.89  · 
Rating details
 ·  23,153 ratings  ·  1,419 reviews

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Dawn O'Porter gives us a story of women, middle aged, on a journey to discover and consolidate their identity and feel comfortable in their skins. There is much humour, mayhem and comic touches although not all of it worked for me. In that sense, for me, this was a mixed bag of a read, feeling uneven at times and too much, too much, at others. The three women are Tara, single mother and television producer, Camie, a blogger and PA to a well known photographer, Stella. The author puts them in a w ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
Apr 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, over-rated
Link to review:

With heavy billing and a hefty amount of hype, The Cows is clearly a book with high ambitions. It’s certainly an interesting idea – transferring the debate over whether or not a woman is defined by her ability to procreate down to the populist chick lit genre. I had to raise an eyebrow though when the book kicked off with a dictionary definition of what a cow is but which fell into the common misconception that a heifer becomes a cow after
Bill Kupersmith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 17, 2017 rated it did not like it
i've read some strange books in my time but this one takes the cake ...more
This book caught my eye at the store, possibly because of it horrendous cover art; but I picked it up and read the synopsis and first few pages anyway. The introduction implies that society sees women either as pieces of meat or child bearers - and that their quality as meat declines as soon as they have had children. I knew I had to read it.

"The Cows" is the interconnected story of three very different women who have experienced sexism, but also (more or less subtle) bullying from other women a
Louise Wilson
Mar 29, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This novel is about 3 women, Tara, Stella and Cam.

Tara is a single mother who makes online documentaries. Cam is single and a feisty who is committed to being childless. She writes a blog about women and their issues. Stella is grieving the death of her sister, Alice, who had ovarian cancer.

The contents of this novel might offend some people as it covers abortion, sex, periods and masterbation to name a few. It tells about the dangers of videos going viral.

I did enjoy this novel but s
The Cows is absolutely brilliant. It made me laugh, cry, cringe with embarrassment, nod in agreement and left me feeling rather emotional, yet completely empowered by the end of it.

This story focusses on three very different women who are initially unconnected, but gradually become a part of each other’s lives due to events that in many ways are out of their control.

Tara – A single mum and successful career woman, thanks to her own mum helping to take care of her daughter for her.

Cam – A very co
Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
‘The Cows’ is such a bizarre book. As a story about a woman struggling to deal with going viral in the bad way, it is not half bad. But ‘The Cows’ is not satisfied with that—it wants to be a feminist handbook. And its version of feminism is so privileged and white that this reader was left thinking WTF at intervals throughout the book. The voice of feminism here is a blogger named Cam, who is both celebrated and reviled for her ‘brave’ decision not to have children. Um, maybe 15 years ago but wo ...more
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: could-not-finish
One of the worst books I have read in a long time. Good premise but just ridiculous. The writing was also painfully bad.
May 03, 2017 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Elaine Mullane || At Home in Books

I am going to start this review by saying that I didn't very much enjoy Dawn O'Porter's first novel, Paper Aeroplanes. Despite that, I was still excited when The Cows was made available to me through Netgalley. I do like O'Porter and her documentaries, and the blurb that accompanied this book sounded promising.

This book has changed my opinion of O'Porter as a novelist. Like the little check-ins with the Daily Mail online that many of us enjoy, it is addictive. The book follows the story of th
Lucy Banks
May 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

A fabulously thinly veiled 'call to arms' for women everywhere - solidarity, sisters; not judgement and jealousy!

Any book about feminism is usually of interest to me. However, to refer to r The Cows as a simple feminist story would be to do it serious injustice. It's an upbeat, wise-cracking examination of how many females judge and bully one another (particularly online) - and an overall message to remind us to a) g
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was so excited to start it. I love her. Love her on social media, her articles and documentaries and I read and loved both of her YA novels. So I had HIGH expectations.

Such a let down.

The story revolves around 3 women in their 30s and 40s (Tara, Cam and Stella) all living in London. Unconnected at the start but events transpire to bring them together.

Two problems at the outset. Firstly, I didn't like any of the 3 women for various reasons (one implausibly irresponsible, one was so vain and arr
Ann Marks
Jul 10, 2018 rated it did not like it
I actually threw this book into the bin.
I found it crude, patronizing and really nasty. If the 3 women in this book represent feminism then we really need to worry. They patronized anyone who had a "traditional " life whilst using them for babysitting etc.
As for the men - I felt mostly sorry for them for being cast with such weak characters - men are much better than that.
And it wasn't funny and it wasn't well written - it was like an essay written by a schoolgirl aiming to shock.
I really feel t
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not really sure what to make of this one. I felt like it was trying to be relatable but the ridiculous lives of the women in the book were really hard to relate to at all.
Mairead Hearne (
Any book with the meme #DontFollowTheHerd was always going to peak my interest.

The Cows is a story of three woman ~ Tara, Camilla and Stella. All live very different lives. All have very different stories to tell. But the one thing they have in common is that all are trying to succeed in a society that is continually challenging them and attempting to push them back down.

Tara is a single mother of a one. Working in the male dominated world of the media, Tara is tough and determined to reach and
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thank god for Bookbub and its promotional emails or I would never have found this book!

The first thing that caught my eye was the edgy cover, then the book’s description (especially the - women don’t have to fall into a stereotype - part), and lastly the O’Porter’s profile photo (she looks like a rockstar!). But then I started reading and I couldn’t stop! It's all about three women standing by their beliefs in today’s largely stereotypical society.

Two of my favourite notes:

‘Can I be a princess
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I received a free digital copy from the author/publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Cows follows three different women, in their late 20s, 30s and early 40s, as they navigate their way through life while facing off against public opinion on what women should be and what they should do, health scares, sexuality, misogyny in the workplace and much more.

This book was absolutely brilliant and I loved all of it. It's been a long time since a book was able to make laugh out lou
Feb 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
Thank god I only paid 99p for this
Elite Group
Please don’t be fooled by the title!

At the start of the book, Dawn O’Porter gives us the dictionary description of a cow. Part of the herd. Used for milk and beef. They produce milk, calves and then get slaughtered for their meat, which will most probably end up in dog food. Why therefore has she chosen these beautiful creatures with long eyelashes as the title for this book? Are women part of a herd? Is that what we’ve become as women?

The story revolves around three women. Tara, Cam and Stella
Renita D'Silva
Jul 07, 2018 rated it liked it
A brilliant, thought provoking, witty and wonderfully written story.
Portia S
Jun 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
I used to think Dawn O'Porter was great, but this book was frankly awful.

It was supposed to be some sort of feminist statement, but if you think feminism is a load of women being awful to each other while saying things like 'just make an effort to change your life! get what you want!' then that's pretty shocking. All the characters were awful, the 'feminist' blogs interspersed throughout were awfully written (although no worse than the rest of the writing), the physical descriptions of women we
Donna Backshall
This is one of the funniest and most ridiculous books I've read in a long time. I caught myself laughing and no way-ing out loud more times than I can count.

Dear Tara's unfortunate circumstances rubbed some people the wrong way -- LOL, see what I did there? -- but I think it's the perfect summer read for the lighthearted and sometimes foolish gals in our circles.

I recommended The Cows to my own gang of girls, and can't wait for them to come back to me with some "Oh my GOD, can you believe..
Emer  Tannam
Mar 06, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book is thoroughly ridiculous, but by far the most ridiculous thing about it is that it should be considered feminist and one of the characters, Cam, a feminist. A truly mind-boggling read.
Cathy Geagan
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Although I hadn’t read any other books by Dawn O’Porter, I was delighted to be approached to review it as I loved the sound of a fearlessly frank and funny book about how women don’t have to fall into a stereotype.

The story follows three women: Tara, a single mother who makes documentary films in a misogynistic office; Cam, a childfree blogger who documents her life and loves online; and Stella, grieving the loss of her twin sister to breast cancer and facing a decision to have a prophylactic m
Linda Hill
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Three very different women, Tara, Cam and Stella, all find life isn’t always under your own control!

The Cows is brilliant. I enjoyed every word. Dawn O’Porter’s writing is vibrant, sassy, sparky, sexy and funny as she explores what it means to be a woman in modern society where men still seem to have the upper hand and modern technology and social media can affect our lives devastatingly.

The plot is very entertaining but also quite disturbing. When Tara behaves in a way I found quite shocking, I
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: on-kindle, net-galley
I don’t know why I haven’t picked up any of Dawn O'Porter’s earlier books because this one had me laughing out loud on a packed commuter train. The Cows is a take on modern life in London in this internet connected age. It runs the full gamut of emotions from suicidal despair to hope and joy.

Tara has a six year old daughter from a one night stand but now she is looking for someone special to share her life with and the guys she sees on Tinder are particularly uninspiring. When she finds herself
Shehzeen Muzaffar
Aug 02, 2018 rated it liked it
When I started reading this book I had a feeling that i will not like this book but i did. Its basically about three middle aged women thrown into different situations with a bit of humor and a lot of chaos. Tara, a single mother and producer, Camie, a blogger and Stella, PA to well known photographer.

They are definitely not the woman who follow the herd. I found this entertaining but also very cringe worthy. I appreciate how this book deals with social media over all. I liked this book but I w
Lily Malone
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant. With the very slight exception of about the first 3-5 pages - I loved this book hard.
The storyline for Tara just had me in hysterics at times, and reading sections out loud to my hubby. Look out for the scene dealing with broken crockery, and 'the cape'.
All these women had their faults but they felt very human to me, very realistic. I could identify with all of them and what they went through, and the motivations pushing their actions.
This is going into my Top 5 books for 2018.
Feb 26, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really don’t know where to start with this review. I found this one pretty weird and crude, it was just a bit too much for me. I can understand now why I have seen such mixed reviews. I didn’t love the characters and I felt like the book was trying to force me to relate to them and feel empowered by them. Sadly, I did not.

It was an easy read that I read quite quickly and parts were enjoyable, brave, funny and uplifting. I didn’t predict the ending at all and I think it all came together reall
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Dawn O'Porter is a broadcaster and print journalist who lives in London with her husband Chris, cat Lilu and dog Potato. She has made thirteen documentaries about all sorts of things, including polygamy, childbirth, geishas, body image, breast cancer and even the movie DIRTY DANCING.

Dawn has written for various UK newspapers and magazines including GRAZIA and STYLIST. She is also a highly prolifi

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“Yes, it’s unfortunate that we have been conditioned to see an alternative to motherhood as not normal. But you do all realise that some of the most brilliant women in the world don’t have kids, right? Oprah, Gloria Steinem, Helen Mirren, Dolly Parton? Do you think their lives carry an air of tragedy because they never had children? I don’t. I’m sure they all had different reasons for not doing it, some maybe couldn’t, some didn’t want to, but these women’s lives are not empty because of that. I think it’s important we take the lead from our heroes and for everyone to stop valuing women on whether they do, or do not, become mothers. The irony of yours and your listeners’ opinions is that it is you boxing women in to these roles, not men. It’s highly un-feminist of you.’ She” 7 likes
“You have the power to shape your own destiny, you have the power to dictate how people treat you. You have the power not to be made to feel small, put down, or intimidated. As Ghandi said, ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world’. Everything that happens to you is in your control, because you control how you respond. Don’t apologise for who you are, and don’t take shit. Don’t be a victim. Feminism needs you to step up. Get what you want. Just go out there, and take it.” 4 likes
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