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Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines and Motherhood

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Having babies can be hard. Having a career can be hard. Having a successful relationship can be hard. But all three at once? This is not a book about having it all. Or not having it all. When she became an editor at 24 and had a baby nine months later, Mia Freedman simply knew she wanted to be successful at everything she did, at home and at work. And then she woke up. Over Having babies can be hard. Having a career can be hard. Having a successful relationship can be hard. But all three at once? This is not a book about having it all. Or not having it all. When she became an editor at 24 and had a baby nine months later, Mia Freedman simply knew she wanted to be successful at everything she did, at home and at work. And then she woke up. Over the next decade she would experience the giddy highs and guilty lows of being a working mother. She would manage a staff of 70 but forget to pick up her son from after-school care. Twice. She would create sealed sections by day and read bedtime stories by night. She would wear a maternity bra under fashion-forward clothes that would make her look like a lactating cast member from Cirque du Soleil. She would rock the magazine world by using larger models and then be blasted by some feminists for not doing enough. Newspaper columnist, author and former magazine editor Mia Freedman has been called the voice of her generation, and in Mama Mia she writes candidly about the myth of perfection so many high profile women try to maintain. From the heartbreak of infertility to the joy of pregnancy this book is about being a wife, mother, friend, daughter, boss, employee and media personality -- all at once. It's about kicking big life goals early and often, and the surprising things that happen when you walk away from everything you thought you wanted.


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Having babies can be hard. Having a career can be hard. Having a successful relationship can be hard. But all three at once? This is not a book about having it all. Or not having it all. When she became an editor at 24 and had a baby nine months later, Mia Freedman simply knew she wanted to be successful at everything she did, at home and at work. And then she woke up. Over Having babies can be hard. Having a career can be hard. Having a successful relationship can be hard. But all three at once? This is not a book about having it all. Or not having it all. When she became an editor at 24 and had a baby nine months later, Mia Freedman simply knew she wanted to be successful at everything she did, at home and at work. And then she woke up. Over the next decade she would experience the giddy highs and guilty lows of being a working mother. She would manage a staff of 70 but forget to pick up her son from after-school care. Twice. She would create sealed sections by day and read bedtime stories by night. She would wear a maternity bra under fashion-forward clothes that would make her look like a lactating cast member from Cirque du Soleil. She would rock the magazine world by using larger models and then be blasted by some feminists for not doing enough. Newspaper columnist, author and former magazine editor Mia Freedman has been called the voice of her generation, and in Mama Mia she writes candidly about the myth of perfection so many high profile women try to maintain. From the heartbreak of infertility to the joy of pregnancy this book is about being a wife, mother, friend, daughter, boss, employee and media personality -- all at once. It's about kicking big life goals early and often, and the surprising things that happen when you walk away from everything you thought you wanted.

30 review for Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines and Motherhood

  1. 4 out of 5

    Catriona

    Loved it. Great read. Didn't want to put down. A very honest memoir of being a mother and a business woman. Loved it. Great read. Didn't want to put down. A very honest memoir of being a mother and a business woman.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Riley

    I cannot tell you how much I LOVED this book. It was funny, interesting, empowering and so relatable. This was the honey to my bread because the story began in the 90s when I was a wee teen who was hopelessly devoted to first Dolly then Cleo magazines. Mia talks about her adoration for these magazines and how this was the impetus for her to work for them. Her ambition was incredible. From here Mia writes about fertility ups and downs, how she made motherhood and career work together as well as t I cannot tell you how much I LOVED this book. It was funny, interesting, empowering and so relatable. This was the honey to my bread because the story began in the 90s when I was a wee teen who was hopelessly devoted to first Dolly then Cleo magazines. Mia talks about her adoration for these magazines and how this was the impetus for her to work for them. Her ambition was incredible. From here Mia writes about fertility ups and downs, how she made motherhood and career work together as well as the general challenges of working as the head of a magazine where you need to balance earning income with doing the right thing. Mia’s explanation of anxiety was another way I connected with her. This book showed me how hard it must be to work in the spotlight. I have always admired Mia Freedman but this book gave me layers of her to unfold and absorb. I learnt so much about her, some things about myself, cried and laughed out loud. Thank you Mia for this book xo

  3. 4 out of 5

    Francene Carroll

    Mia Freedman is a woman who seems to have it all so it was really interesting to read about her struggles and insecurities. I loved the insiders view of the magazine industry and enjoyed her descriptions of family life. The only negative note for me was her attitude towards the klepto nanny who stole 16 items of clothing and initially denied this before eventually returning them all unwashed. The girl clearly had issues and the fact that she apologised and returned the clothes showed remorse. I f Mia Freedman is a woman who seems to have it all so it was really interesting to read about her struggles and insecurities. I loved the insiders view of the magazine industry and enjoyed her descriptions of family life. The only negative note for me was her attitude towards the klepto nanny who stole 16 items of clothing and initially denied this before eventually returning them all unwashed. The girl clearly had issues and the fact that she apologised and returned the clothes showed remorse. I found it a bit off that someone in Mia's privileged position would expose and mock her in a book. Mia was also devastated when the nanny didn't say a word about her daughter after she'd been fired. First of all, the girl had just lost her job, do you really think your daughter is going to be the more pressing thing on her mind? Second, no matter how cute and amazing you think your child is, they aren't anywhere near that amazing to the people who are paid to look after them. Pretending to love your child is part of their job. Apart from this minor quibble I really enjoyed this book. Mia's self-deprecating humor and funny anecdotes made this a fun, entertaining read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Carlie Hamilton

    I'm a huge fan of Mia Freedman. When I bought cosmo during high school and after, she was the editor. I loved how she tried to make the magazine more "body love" friendly. So of course I really wanted to read this book. I think I read it at the right stage in life (25 - the age when she became Cosmo's editor - I don't have as much to show with my life...) I was surprised how baby crazy she was all throughout her time as an editor of Cleo, she kept that well hidden. I remember many of the magazin I'm a huge fan of Mia Freedman. When I bought cosmo during high school and after, she was the editor. I loved how she tried to make the magazine more "body love" friendly. So of course I really wanted to read this book. I think I read it at the right stage in life (25 - the age when she became Cosmo's editor - I don't have as much to show with my life...) I was surprised how baby crazy she was all throughout her time as an editor of Cleo, she kept that well hidden. I remember many of the magazine related incidents she talks about in the book and it was great to get another perspective on them. I loved seeing more into Mia's life. A good book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Loved this book, I found Mia's honesty on topics such as womens magazines and what goes on behind the scenes, her miscarrage, pregnancys and birth so wonderfully frank. I love that she has a smug and crap mum list (of her 16 crap points, I will confess to 8 possibly 9) I am so glad that like me, she hates competative mothering, and that this is a woman that I'm sure I would find a great friend. Wonderful book, can't say it enough. Loved this book, I found Mia's honesty on topics such as womens magazines and what goes on behind the scenes, her miscarrage, pregnancys and birth so wonderfully frank. I love that she has a smug and crap mum list (of her 16 crap points, I will confess to 8 possibly 9) I am so glad that like me, she hates competative mothering, and that this is a woman that I'm sure I would find a great friend. Wonderful book, can't say it enough.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Loved it! Funny, touching and a good insight into the world of magazines and media. It made me laugh, made me cry and made me realize - even those who have the 'perfect' life on the outside have their own setbacks and challenges on the inside. Loved it! Funny, touching and a good insight into the world of magazines and media. It made me laugh, made me cry and made me realize - even those who have the 'perfect' life on the outside have their own setbacks and challenges on the inside.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Heather Browning

    I really liked this. Mia is honest and funny and I found myself continually wanting to get back to reading it. Her account of a mid-pregnancy miscarriage was utterly heartbreaking, while some of her stories about working in magazines had me laughing out loud. Definitely worthwhile reading.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sarz

    LOVED IT!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Thank you, Mia Freedman for writing this book! You make women like me feel like they are not alone in their struggles with career, working lifestyle, relationships, parenting and being the perfect woman.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Miyuki

    It had me bite my nails when reading on childbirth.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Steve lovell

    Initially I wondered why my beautiful daughter recommended this to me. I've read Mia's columns on occasions in the Sundat Age, but to my mind she does not compare to my favourite working for that august paper, Kate Holden and Martin Flanagan, or for that matter, on a good day, Danny Katz. In this book her writing is predestrian, and being male, I guess I wasn't the target audience in any case. The book though was illuminating on several fronts - and maybe a few more blokes should read it. Freedm Initially I wondered why my beautiful daughter recommended this to me. I've read Mia's columns on occasions in the Sundat Age, but to my mind she does not compare to my favourite working for that august paper, Kate Holden and Martin Flanagan, or for that matter, on a good day, Danny Katz. In this book her writing is predestrian, and being male, I guess I wasn't the target audience in any case. The book though was illuminating on several fronts - and maybe a few more blokes should read it. Freedman edited 'Cleo' and 'Cosmopolitan' in their pomp before the Net started making inroads into their circulation. It was astounding to me that every time in this role she selected a 'covergirl' that veered away from the stereotypivcal slim, airbrushed blonde, preferably of the celebrity ilk, circulation would drop - no coloured or plus ones please! When Kelly Osborne was used sales truly nosedived. It shocked me that Australian female magaholics were that shallow - hopefully now they are more realistic! I found out much about childbirth eg that nipple stimulation can bring on labour. Her account of carrying her dead baby in her womb was heart - wrenching. Men have little to do with the mechanisms of producing children apart from the initial act - reading Freedman on her pregnancies gave me renewed respect for what the women in my life have done. Her subservience to the mental manipulations of the wastrel she formed her first serious relationship with did the opposite and further lowered my opinion of my own gender. Overall it was a worthwhile read and to become such a major player at ACP at such a tender age garners much credit. And now I know there are baby as well as horse and a plethora of other 'whisperers'!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Westbrook

    I picked up this book because I was in the mood to find something relatable and feminine and, as a chronically ambitious high achiever, I'd say this was definitely the ticket. The first three chapters or so of this book, right up until Mia had her first child, were more a less of mirror of my life so far in the work force. Naive ambition, fabulous new job, realising that with the perks comes great responsibility, outgrowing your youth rapidly, social pressure, decision making, dealing with contr I picked up this book because I was in the mood to find something relatable and feminine and, as a chronically ambitious high achiever, I'd say this was definitely the ticket. The first three chapters or so of this book, right up until Mia had her first child, were more a less of mirror of my life so far in the work force. Naive ambition, fabulous new job, realising that with the perks comes great responsibility, outgrowing your youth rapidly, social pressure, decision making, dealing with controversy and backlash as well as work/life balance. It's all in there and I loved every minute of reading it. It really is the story of the ambitious Gen Y women, it's just that Mia was unique and beat us to it one generation early. Mia's language and style is just so down to earth and young Australian, I honestly feel as though I could have written parts of it. She's someone I've seen in the media as a commentator throughout my youth and she's always struck me as exactly the sort of person you can just hang out with as you eat a packet of Tim Tams while watching a girly chick flick wishing you didn't have to go back to work tomorrow. We all have those off moments where we wonder if the grass could have been greener if we'd done something else and reading this reminmds us that it's the same for everyone. And that's comforting. So if that's what you're looking for, then give it a shot.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Once again, the story of how I obtained this book is more significant to me than the actual content itself. Mama Mia was recommended to me by a friend whose opinions in literature I rears very highly. So I was keen to get my hands on it. However somewhere in the conversation (which happened very early 2010) wires got crossed. And I was under the impression that this book was by Mia Fields, a prominent Christian song writer. I was very surprised to learn that, along with impressive song writing s Once again, the story of how I obtained this book is more significant to me than the actual content itself. Mama Mia was recommended to me by a friend whose opinions in literature I rears very highly. So I was keen to get my hands on it. However somewhere in the conversation (which happened very early 2010) wires got crossed. And I was under the impression that this book was by Mia Fields, a prominent Christian song writer. I was very surprised to learn that, along with impressive song writing skills, Mia also used to edit Cosmopolitan magazine! What different areas of interest! Conflict even. Oh, how I was excited to read Mama Mia. So for over a year I've been keenly searching "Fields, Mia" in the computers of every book store I went to. To no avail. Then on a recent trip to Adelaide, I was browsing the music biography section of Borders, looking for a memoir of Mick Jagger. I did not find it. But wasn't I surprised to see, mis-shelved or just misplaced, Mama Mia. In all its glory. By Mia Freedman. Not, after all these months, Mia Fields. Disappointment aside, I bought the book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Feldman is a captivating writer, and her insights into the world of women's magazines and editing were fun and interesting to read about. And by the end of Mama Mia, I'd almost forgotten the anti-climax over the authorship. Almost.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Cherry Bob*omb

    Having been a high-schooler and regular reader back in the days when Mia was editor of Aussie Cosmo, this was a highly nostalgic read for me. I appreciated her feminism and focus on positive female body image at the time, and haven't been able to enjoy one of those magazines since. She is aware of how ridiculous the magazine industry is, and explains some of her more controversial decisions as well as the more standard inner workings of a magazine (hint: it's all a farce). Being 9 months pregnan Having been a high-schooler and regular reader back in the days when Mia was editor of Aussie Cosmo, this was a highly nostalgic read for me. I appreciated her feminism and focus on positive female body image at the time, and haven't been able to enjoy one of those magazines since. She is aware of how ridiculous the magazine industry is, and explains some of her more controversial decisions as well as the more standard inner workings of a magazine (hint: it's all a farce). Being 9 months pregnant myself, I adored the birth stories. They felt real, rather than the either terrifying or miraculous tales I've read elsewhere. I've miss Mia's honest and relatable writing style and I think I'm going to have to go check out her blog now- though I wish she'd make a grown-up magazine. I miss magazines.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea

    I really enjoyed reading this. Mia Freedman's memoir provides interesting insight into the media world, especially magazines and TV. Even though I'm not quite at the life stage where I'm trying to juggle a family and work, Mia Freedman's candid stories that begin when she was an intern at Cleo and follow the ups and downs since then is a worthwhile read for all and great for giving perspective on it all. Her writing is quite humorous and flows easily, and she has a nice ability to create suspense I really enjoyed reading this. Mia Freedman's memoir provides interesting insight into the media world, especially magazines and TV. Even though I'm not quite at the life stage where I'm trying to juggle a family and work, Mia Freedman's candid stories that begin when she was an intern at Cleo and follow the ups and downs since then is a worthwhile read for all and great for giving perspective on it all. Her writing is quite humorous and flows easily, and she has a nice ability to create suspense through her foreboding comments at the ends of certain chapters. I also really liked that this memoir is chronological, or at least well thought out as a complete narrative rather than a series of random vignettes - the 'vignette' trend is something that I am getting a little tired of when it comes to celebrities/high-profile authors penning their memoirs.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sam Still Reading

    I was looking at this book on my shelves, wondering why I bought it. I find Mia's columns okay, but sometimes a bit smug...was I trying to re-create my uni days (when she was editor of Cosmo)? Did I just have a burning desire for more FF points that day? Anyway, I plucked this book from my shelves to read to and from work only. That stopped after a few days - this book was interesting, funny and honest. I got the lowdown on the Cosmo I grew up with. There were also some dreadfully sad moments as I was looking at this book on my shelves, wondering why I bought it. I find Mia's columns okay, but sometimes a bit smug...was I trying to re-create my uni days (when she was editor of Cosmo)? Did I just have a burning desire for more FF points that day? Anyway, I plucked this book from my shelves to read to and from work only. That stopped after a few days - this book was interesting, funny and honest. I got the lowdown on the Cosmo I grew up with. There were also some dreadfully sad moments as well some funny ones and some 'too true' comments. This is so much better than her columns and The New Black. Mia, come back and edit a magazine one day. I'd definitely buy it.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    My first experience of Mia's amazing writing was through her Sunday Life column in The Age & I would anticipate the delivery of our paper with great excitement. Being a busy mum of 2 small children, reading her column & following her blog is a form of self-indulgence for me ! Her book made me laugh out loud & cry real tears - to say I enjoyed it would be an understatement. I love the way she writes, I can fully relate - it's like listening to one of my favourite girlfriends telling me a story ! My first experience of Mia's amazing writing was through her Sunday Life column in The Age & I would anticipate the delivery of our paper with great excitement. Being a busy mum of 2 small children, reading her column & following her blog is a form of self-indulgence for me ! Her book made me laugh out loud & cry real tears - to say I enjoyed it would be an understatement. I love the way she writes, I can fully relate - it's like listening to one of my favourite girlfriends telling me a story ! X

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ali S

    This book is so hard to put down (it was a struggle putting it down just long enough to write this review). Mia's voice, passion, soul, humour, personality, charm and genuine persona can be felt in every word of this book. It's real and raw, which is something I love and strive to do with my own writing. I'd recommend this book to any women, but especially an aspiring writer. Would give anything to have her as my mentor & I've been taking notes the entire time I've been reading 'Mama Mia'. Thankyou This book is so hard to put down (it was a struggle putting it down just long enough to write this review). Mia's voice, passion, soul, humour, personality, charm and genuine persona can be felt in every word of this book. It's real and raw, which is something I love and strive to do with my own writing. I'd recommend this book to any women, but especially an aspiring writer. Would give anything to have her as my mentor & I've been taking notes the entire time I've been reading 'Mama Mia'. Thankyou Mia for this gem of a read.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Genna

    I read this book in a day, primarily picked it up because Mia worked at ACP for a number of years where I have worked for the past 8 years, so it was interesting to read her take on the people and culture of the company. It surprised me actually, as I didnt expect it to be so personal, especially when discussing her pregnancy and family issues. Probably wouldnt recommend unless you were either interested in the magazine industry or motherhood.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tracey

    Mia is as objective as one can reasonably expect in Mama Mia. To paraphrase her first boss, Lisa Wilkinson, Mia seems to have it all, so why shouldn't we hate her. I love a story where people are brave enough to tell it like it is. For me, Mia seems to be practicing what she preaches and doing the best she can. This book is an entertaining read and I'll definitely be recommending it to friends. Mia is as objective as one can reasonably expect in Mama Mia. To paraphrase her first boss, Lisa Wilkinson, Mia seems to have it all, so why shouldn't we hate her. I love a story where people are brave enough to tell it like it is. For me, Mia seems to be practicing what she preaches and doing the best she can. This book is an entertaining read and I'll definitely be recommending it to friends.

  21. 4 out of 5

    tee

    I was pleasantly surprised by Mia's book. I got it as a light read, expecting it to be trash but I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't put the damn thing down. It was an interesting story, it felt real and honest and I fell in love with how open and humble Mia is, she seems like a fantastic woman and I was even a little sad when I finished the book - I never expected that! I was pleasantly surprised by Mia's book. I got it as a light read, expecting it to be trash but I was hooked from the beginning and couldn't put the damn thing down. It was an interesting story, it felt real and honest and I fell in love with how open and humble Mia is, she seems like a fantastic woman and I was even a little sad when I finished the book - I never expected that!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    Didn't know a lot about Mia Freedman aside from seeing her head in my magazines. I found her to be quite smug, but give her credit to achieve so much in a short amount of time. There were moments that were funny and then sad moments. I took this on holiday with me and it did make me question myself and my ambition or lack of. Didn't know a lot about Mia Freedman aside from seeing her head in my magazines. I found her to be quite smug, but give her credit to achieve so much in a short amount of time. There were moments that were funny and then sad moments. I took this on holiday with me and it did make me question myself and my ambition or lack of.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mandy

    Really enjoyed this - so very, very candid! I admire her honesty. Interesting insight into the not so glamorous magazine industry and the equally down to earth pursuit of motherhood. An easy but enjoyable read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nadia

    What I most loved about this book were the stories from Mia as a mum! Her triumphs, her troubles, her tears, her laughter ... and mostly the love she has for her children. I am off to write my own SMug List & Crap List :-P

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Keating

    I thought this was a fun read, Mia has an easy conversational style, and after all those Cosmos i read in high school, i sort of feel like she's my big sister! I thought this was a fun read, Mia has an easy conversational style, and after all those Cosmos i read in high school, i sort of feel like she's my big sister!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Eleanor

    Open-hearted autobiography.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Fiona

    Made me want to work for a magazine, briefly.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Angela Smith

    Such an easy, funny, heart-breaking read. I could really relate to the birth chapters. It was so real and took me back to when I had my first child 20 years ago. Highly recommended!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Romana Toson

    I didn't have high hopes for this as a read, but I was won over by Mia's charm, wit and honesty. It was fun getting behind the scenes action on the magazine world too. Enjoyable read. I didn't have high hopes for this as a read, but I was won over by Mia's charm, wit and honesty. It was fun getting behind the scenes action on the magazine world too. Enjoyable read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Phillippa

    I just loved this book. Such a great read, funny, sad, raw. Mia freedman is awesome

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