Libby Purves has carved a great niche for herself as an astute commentator on the state of motherhood today. The long-time Radio 4 presenter, journalist and ‘Times’ columnist is know for dissecting parenthood with her razor-sharp wit.
Her best known parenting book, How Not to be a Perfect Mother, rather than giving us a precise guide on bringing up our children, showed in a humorous and entertaining way how to cut corners and generally ‘Get Away With It’ as parents.
Nature’s Masterpiece is a much more wide ranging book covering topics from babies to university students and beyond. Her skill, as always, is to present her advice not so much as fact, but as a point for starting a discussion. This is a book that will surreptitiously make you think for yourself about the issues it raises.
It covers discipline and money, parties and pets. There is serious discussion of relationships between all members of the family including the parent’s relationship.
As a working mother she can discuss from experience all aspects of childcare. There is lots of advice on how to deal with schools, both educationally and socially.
Difficult subjects such as sex, drugs, bullying, bad news and the internet are fearlessly tackled, again in her thoughtful and amusing way.
Purves’ books are bestsellers, for the very good reason that she is a very entertaining writer. If you have read her column in the Times you will love the wonderful flights of fancy in this book. The section on money begins with a wonderful mock Chancellor of the Exchequer speech for example, and the ghosts of Mother’s day past, present and future are gems. Possibly the best bit though is the transcript of an ‘interview’ with her children. Their answers to the questions of what makes a good parent are hilarious and I hope they get their due share of the royalties!!
There are a number of questions we all dread from our children. Where did I come from? Why is Tiddles not moving? There are suggested answers for a multitude of difficult questions, but not just one answer, a selection of answers. You can choose the one you are most comfortable with or adapt one as necessary.
The theme of this book is finding a way to live with your family in a way which you are comfortable with, to have the confidence to decide how you want family life to be, and then to make it so. It is as enjoyable to read as it is useful, and makes a great starting point for the discussion of any parenting issue.