The Cows by Dawn O’Porter – Review


Title: The Cows

Author: Dawn O’Porter

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Harper Collins UK – out now

Summary: from publisher

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.

Tara, Cam and Stella are strangers living their own lives as best they can though when society’s screaming you should live life one way, it can be hard to like what you see in the mirror.

When an extraordinary event ties invisible bonds of friendship between them, one woman’s catastrophe becomes another’s inspiration, and a life lesson to all.

Sometimes it’s ok not to follow the herd.

The Cows is a powerful novel about three women judging each other, but also themselves. In all the noise of modern life, they need to find their own voice.


I was quite excited to read this book because I have always liked Dawn O’Porter’s work in magazines and television, because of this I had pretty high hopes for The Cows. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed. It wasn’t what I expected to be honest and ultimately I felt confused about what it was trying to say.

Lets start with some of the things I did like about it before delving into what I didn’t. I thought it had some really interesting themes and ideas. It brought up some insightful points about social media and the ways in which people can be both vilified or idealised by society, sometimes both at once. I also liked that the book is all about women and how they feel and think. I don’t think the book is badly written at all, nor do I think it’s amazingly well written. The characters are certainly intriguing, they are all in very different situations and have interesting pasts. Of the three main characters the book focusses on I felt the most invested in Tara. I found her intelligent and I empathised with her a lot at certain points throughout the story. I enjoyed reading about her journey.

Unfortunately, despite liking some parts of the book, overall I did really struggle with it. I think my main issue with it is that what I wanted and expected it to be was a positive exploration of feminism and female friendship and that is not what I felt it was. I found most of the characters unlikeable which, for me, is not usually a problem if the story is still good in other areas. Here, I didn’t feel that was the case. I had a real issue with Cam especially, I felt she came across as judgemental and condescending despite constantly blogging about how women shouldn’t judge each other’s life choices. This was confusing as, for me, feminism means women being free to be whatever they want in life, not about preaching to each other about the decisions they make. I just felt the tone was really off, in my personal opinion. On another note, I also felt that this book seemed to have a real problem with overweight people. Often characters who were essentially unpleasant were consistently described as fat or chubby. I couldn’t understand why a novel supposedly about how wrong it is to publicly shame anyone appeared to be totally fine with fat-shaming. It just felt like such a disconnect to me.

I hate writing negative reviews and I really wanted to like The Cows. I went into it perhaps expecting too much or it just didn’t resonate with me for a few reasons. I’m absolutely not saying it’s terrible or that you shouldn’t read it as everyone will have different reactions to it and I’ve seen plenty of glowing reviews. Sadly I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I was hoping I would.


I received this e-arc from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

3 thoughts on “The Cows by Dawn O’Porter – Review

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