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International bestselling author Cathy Kelly returns with her signature warmth and wisdom in her latest novel, Other Women. An honest story about how the reality of marriage, family and romance can be quite messy and sometimes it's the women in our lives that hold us together. We asked Cathy what we should expect from her new book, which authors she likes to read and how she will be spending Mother's Day.

Can you tell us a little about Sid and Finn?

CK: Sid's a small, quirky, very independent woman who wears all black, acts a bit tough and yet likes taxis to drop her right to the front door of her apartment block. She's off men, permanently, until she meets the tall, thoughtful Finn and they decide they'll just be friends. He's broken up with his last girlfriend and they think that friendship is where it's at. Except when they're together, Finn can't quite take his eyes off Sid. He seems to understand her which nobody ever does. And she feels as if butterflies are taking off inside her when he's near. But they're just friends, right? I wanted to write about a woman who's been burned by life and is very wary of men and have her think she could find a man to be friends with, but then find that life rarely works out the way we plan it. Her story is about coming slowly out of hurt, like a butterfly unfurling from a chrysalis.


Can men and women be friends?

CK: I have lots of male friends I trust implicitly but I think in order for this to work, you have to weed out the very testosterone-fuelled ones who view the female of the species as...uh, temporary girlfriend, 'Wow, you look lovely in that T-shirt!' material. When I was younger, I was bad at making this differentiation. I was also trying to be liked by all humankind – a hopeless task. The bottom line is respect. You can be friends with people who respect you. Someone who stands beside you in a photo, puts their arm around you and tries to bang into your boob, does not respect you. He won't like that punch in the groin, either!

Cathy-Kelly_BlogPhoto.jpgCathy Kelly


Do you think all women compare themselves to other women? And how does Marin do this in the book?

CK: No, I don't think all women compare themselves to other women but somehow, an awful lot of us do and it's sad and self-defeating. I truly believe in sisterhood – I mentor other women writers and young women in anything I can help with. We can lift our sisters up but somewhere along the line, the notion came into being that we all had to be something different, something ‘better’. So we looked at ‘better’ women and compared ourselves. If the woman had thinner thighs, she was ‘better’. We never thought that if you're tall and skinny, you'll probably have thinner thighs than a short, roundy person – it’s genetics! Doomed to failure and doomed to lock us in a box of comparing. Marin compares herself physically with other women and with regards to clothes, because she loves clothes and shopaholism makes her feel – briefly – like a better version of herself. Until she gets home and looks clearly and calmly at the receipt. She's an amazing cook – I admire all women who cook brilliantly and wish I could! – but she doesn't think about this: she thinks about the fact that she isn't thin enough and doesn't have the right clothes.


Who are some of your favourite women writers?

CK: I love all my writer friends like Marian Keyes, Patricia Scanlan. I adore Jane Harper – wow, she can keep the tension ratcheting up. and I am in LOVE with Kerry Greenwood. I am loath to send her an email because I'll sound like a nutjob and she's not on social media but in the past year and a half, I have read her Phryne Fisher and Corinna series TWICE. I want to be Phryne when I grow up. Oh yeah, I am grown up. I've just finished the latest Robert Galbraith, and am just about to read Kristin Hannah's The Four Winds. Oh yes and love, love Liane Moriarty. She is SO clever. I read and go: 'that's so brilliantly done.'


How do you like to spend Mother’s Day?

CK: If I could lie in bed, read, let someone else feed the darling Puplets of Loveliness (my three adorable Jack Russell sisters) and let that someone also bring me coffee and.....oh wow, this is being greedy, toast and honey? THAT would be bliss. Maybe after a second cup of coffee, myself and my sons would walk the puplets in a wood near our home (it would be sunny and dry) and then I'd go out (remember out, as a concept?) and have coffee with friends, drop in to see my Mum and bring her flowers, come home to find an exquisitely cooked dinner and sit with my family and eat and laugh. That is simple really. The people and dogs I love.

Other Women is out 13 April and is available for pre-order in store and online.
Other Women
Cathy Kelly

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