Today I’m thrilled to share my review on Up and In, a wonderful debut novel by Deborah Disney. In addition to sharing my review, there’s also an interview and giveaway. Deborah has kindly participated in a Q & A and provided a kindle copy of her novel for the giveaway exclusively to one of my readers. Scroll on through for all the goods below!
Up and In by Deborah Disney
A laugh-out-loud debut that will delight fans of Liane Moriarty and Fiona Higgins, this is The Devil Wears Prada at the school gates.
Distinctly middle-class parents, Maria and Joe have committed every bit of available income to giving their daughters Kate and Sarah the best education possible, which to them means attending the most exclusive girls school in the state. But when Kate befriends the spoilt and moody Mirabella, Maria must learn to play nicely with Mirabella’s mother, Bea – the beguiling yet beastly queen of the toffee-nosed school mothers at Riverton.
A series of social blunders and intentional snubs make Maria determined to ensure Kate’s rightful position both at school and on the Saturday morning netball team, but as Maria works hard to negotiate the social hierarchy, her previously contented life with Joe falls far from view.
With her mastery of dialogue and character, Australian author Deborah Disney skillfully balances keen and witty observations about daily life with the more serious issues of schoolyard bullying and social isolation.
You will laugh, you will nod along, and you will want to take the increasingly neurotic Maria aside and point out that in all her desperate, gaffe-filled attempts to fit in with the well-heeled, champagne-swilling mummies of Riverton, she might just be risking all that she holds dear.
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Up and In is a fabulous debut novel that had me laughing from page one. It’s a clever satire on the inner workings of a wealthy family and what happens when you let others’ opinions of you hold a greater precedence than your own opinion. It’s wonderful to have money and be privileged, but as this novel shows, there will always be someone with more than you. Life shouldn’t be about competing with one another, but rather about living your life to the fullest, for you, not them.
Although I’m not married with kids, I found that Deborah’s character Maria was extremely relatable and like-able. It never fails to amaze me what someone will put themselves – and their families – through in order to keep up with society. Although money can buy expensive material possesions in our world, it can’t buy you happiness and true friends. Sometimes it takes the wisdom of someone else in your life to understand what truly matters in life and how short our time here can be. Live your life to the fullest and don’t worry about what everyone else thinks. If they’re too busy judging you to accept you as you are, then they probably aren’t people worthy of your time anyway.
I enjoyed watching Maria work her way from the top of the bea-list to the bottom of the bea-list, to almost off the list completely. Up and In was a well-written, insightful and downright entertaining novel about navigating the rocky path of motherhood on the ‘other side’ of the river. This was a charming debut novel and I can’t wait for this talented Aussie author to put out another!
5 stars for this fantastic debut
‘The thing is, having cancer –or even believing that you have cancer –makes you think about what’s really important. And it makes you realise that there is really only so much in life you can control. Your own actions and your own re-actions. That’s pretty much it.’
Interview with the Author – Deborah Disney
Deborah is Wife to a patient and understanding man, and Mum to two school-aged daughters and one Border Collie, all of whom take turns at being her favourite. The two things she values most in people are kindness and humour. And when they praise her work. Which she finds both kind and funny, as she can’t imagine writing novels ever feeling anything like work.
Deborah‘s first novel, Up and In, hit the bestseller charts on both Amazon and iBooks and has enjoyed international acclaim. Deborah is currently working on her second novel, which is about in-laws.
You can connect with Deborah anytime on Facebook – her page is creatively called ‘Deborah Disney Author’
1. Let’s start off with a brief introduction of you. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thanks, Arielle. I am an Aussie author, having had my first novel published by HarperCollins a little over a year ago. I started out my working life as a lawyer, and had myself nicely set up to practise from home when my first baby entered the scene. She, however, had other ideas and within three months of her being born I had decided to put legal practice on the shelf for a while. It’s still sitting there, gathering dust, almost 14 years later. I now have two daughters, and a third, particularly hairy child – a border collie called Dexter. I am most contentedly married to a man who is exceedingly patient with me and my tendencies to zone into a different world for hours on end when I am writing. He makes me laugh out loud pretty much every day and I love him to bits. Except when he beats me at scrabble, which is every time. My non-writing interests include house renovating and design, cooking (eating) and drinking wine. Not in that order.
2. What was the inspiration behind this novel?
Up and In tells the story of a fish-out-of-water character, Maria, trying to navigate her way through the social hierarchy of mothers at her daughter’s exclusive school. As a school mum, I have been rather fascinated by how having your children at school can feel like being back at school yourself as you try to ‘find your tribe’ amongst the other parents. I think it can be a trap for some people (not just school mums) who get way too caught up with trying to fit in, to the point they lose sight of who they really are and what’s important to them. This seems to be something that starts during school (as it does for Maria’s daughter, Kate, in Up and In) and for some it either extends in adulthood, or it re-manifests during adulthood. Often it happens when people of all sorts of different backgrounds are thrust together by circumstance. Becoming a school mum is one such situation and it seemed like a fun setting for a story about it.
3. How long did it take you to write Up and In? What is your writing process like?
I wrote it over a period of seven months – in spits and spurts. I was enormously lucky that my publisher, HarperCollins expressed keen interest in it when I submitted the first three chapters, which was all I had written at the time I submitted to them. The fact that I already had a big publisher interested in it was enormously motivating. There was a couple of months break from it during those seven months when I had competing work commitments, as well as the kids home on holidays, but once those distractions were out of the way (is it bad to call your children distractions?) I set myself a deadline of my 45th birthday on 5 May. I was typing the last words at 11am on 5 May. Nothing like a deadline for me.
With respect to my writing process, I am a bit ‘all or nothing’. There are days (and nights) when the flow is so strong that my hands are constantly on my keyboard and I barely even eat, and then there can be weeks (and months) when I don’t write at all. For the most part, though, in those periods the story is still on my mind and I am making notes for myself about characters and scenes, which I can then use later when I am in the flow of it.
4. What are you working on at the moment?
I am so excited about my second book, which I am hoping I will have finished in a couple more months in time for an end-of-year publication date. I have spent a lot of time simmering ideas for this book, unlike my first book, which I just launched right into. This next story is about in-law relationships and the challenging (and comical) situations that arise from becoming a member of a whole new family when you are an adult.
5. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
The pay. Okay, everyone can stop laughing now. I’ll be serious. I love it that I can have a shower at midday. I love it that I get to be creative and in a sense, work magic. I genuinely love playing with words, I always have, and being a writer is just that for me – playing with words.
Thanks so much for having me, Arielle X