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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for best audiobook in the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018.

The Sunday Times best seller.

Fearlessly frank and funny, the debut adult novel from Dawn O’Porter needs to be talked about. 

This audiobook contains an audio exclusive Q&A with author Dawn O’Porter.

COW [n.] /kaʊ/ 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.

The Cows is a powerful novel about three women. In all the noise of modern life, each needs to find their own voice.

It’s about friendship and being female.

It’s bold and brilliant.

It’s searingly perceptive.

It's about never following the herd.

And everyone is going to be talking about it.

©2017 Dawn O'Porter (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic Reviews

"A funny, smart, kind, incredibly truthful book about women...all the shame, judgement, envy and love that being alive and female entails." (Polly Vernon)

"Smart and insightful." (RED)   

"Dawn's writing is addictive - fearless, beyond feisty and seriously funny." (Mel Giedroyc)   

"Funny and excruciating. You'll think about it for weeks!" (Kristen Wiig)   

"I loved it. Funny, moving, twisty.... Wow! I couldn't stop reading it." (Jill Mansell) 

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What listeners say about The Cows

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    4 out of 5 stars

Smart, funny, feminist

I learned about this one after the author was on The Guilty Feminist podcast. Like that show, the book is smart and funny and examines the hypocrisies and insecurities that undermine efforts to be feminist. The writing operates in the vicinity of “Bridget Jones” and Liane Moriarty. The book revolves mostly around the idea of whether society allows 42-year-old moms to be sexual beings, after a main character’s private moment is caught on video and becomes a viral sensation. I’d read some reviews that things went too far, and I'll admit I was yelling “no, no, no!” when one of the characters did something seemingly unforgivable. But the power-of-sisterhood ending was perfect. Grade: A-

P.S. The audio version has three different narrators, including the author, and all are great.

4 people found this helpful

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I listened to it anyway...

One of the reviews I read for this book said "cringe-worthy", and shortly into the story I realized it absolutely IS cringe-worthy... but I am SO glad I listened to it anyway! This book is unlike any I have ever read or listened to, and I am so glad that I didn't miss out. I cringed, I laughed out loud more than once, I found myself almost in tears at one point, and now I'm sad that it's over, but happy that I read it. Easily 5 stars

2 people found this helpful

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haha some really funny parts

A cute and funny book! Loved the characters, the storyline, and the ending! So glad I got it!!

1 person found this helpful

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Don't judge a book by the title!

This book is enlightening and interesting. The characters are incredibly deep and their intersectionality is subtle and well done. This is a story of feminism thru and thru. The title is explained in the beginning, but not necessarily does the theme come to fruition. I highly recommend you get it despite the title. Oh, and I usually don't like authors narrating, but in this case I couldn't tell you which character was hers -- they were all of high caliber and talented!

1 person found this helpful

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So much love and resonance I have goose flesh!

Such a wonderfully current reflection on feminism, media, judgement, life.. I am a big fan of surprises, so I won't say anything about the plot because it's full of little twists and turns that kept me gasping, laughing, and crying "no!" The narrators are all fantastic. I can't believe I had never heard of this book before. I will be sure to make sure my loved ones aren't left in the dark - this is a must read! I feel entertained, uplifted, and empowered.

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Absolutely Loved it!!!

Really fantastic writing! Witty, relatable and totally engaging.
The narration was stellar by all three characters as well.
Will definitely be looking forward to more from this author!

1 person found this helpful

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An Emotional Rollercoaster

This novel seems too real to be made up. The author, Dawn O'Porter has an amazing talent for creativity. This is the story of thee women and their ability to cope with the most difficult life decisions and their need to be able to choose their own outcome. As the story progresses you will find that it's almost impossible to exit the ride. This story will flip you over and make you laugh then return you upright and make you sad as you roll from life to life for each of the women. This is a power novel about women and the inner strength they have to achieve their life goals. It's a story of parenting, especially from a single mothers point of view. If you have ever raised a child or children by yourself as a single parent, you will appreciate the length that Tara, the main character goes through to raise her 6 year old daughter Annie. This is a very adult theme.

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Incredible

Amazing! I used to love Dawn before the O'Porter (heard her again on Jameela Jamil's podcast and I'm so glad I did) when she used to do documentaries. This book is honestly everything I hoped it to be and more! Getting ready to read absolutely everything else by her now!

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Disappointing

I had high hopes for this book and found the first number of chapters very good. Sadly I felt that it went down hill from there, with an storyline that was trying too hard to be shock factor. Really wasn't for me.

On a positive note, the narration was very good and clear, knowing each time what character was speaking.

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Great read for women

Brilliant feminist humour. So well written. Dawn O'Porter is a thoroughly modern novelist, I highly recommend it

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  • Hippynat
  • 05-24-17

Awesome

Feminism how it should be, honest and gory in its detail ( but not in a horrid way!) it was really well written and (key) really well read by different actors and Dawn - I haven't been able to stop listening! I've enjoyed it immensely and cannot wait for more by Dawn. I loved her other books (though I'm definitely not a teenager) but this was more realistic and I felt really connected to the characters.Such a gem of a book I'd recommend it to women and men such a breathe a fresh air from chick lit. Go read it 😊

31 people found this helpful

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  • Isobel
  • 08-15-18

Surprised I enjoyed this book!

This was not a promising book for me, as there is not a lot of modern fiction that impresses me, I do not like swearing, and probably due to my advanced age I do not particularly revel in discussing sexual matters. Having said all of which, I think this book was enjoyable, very well-written and communicated the dilemmas, feelings and lives of its main characters very well indeed. I forgave it the liberal use of bad language as I do appreciate that it has its place and the context carried it off. There were one or two elements that were a bit difficult to accept such as the public revelation of Camilla's condition, the use by Stella of her "public" work email address for her nefarious purposes and the forwarding of Stella's fatal email by Camilla - I found these slightly irritating as none of them is likely to have occurred, but then these things were all needed to knit the plot together and the story was otherwise beautifully constructed. Let's face it - the ending was what we all hoped which may be a bit cheesy but after you have suffered so much with these characters through the development of the plot you really do deserve the gift of a satisfying ending! I did not always admire the feminist outpourings as they were sometimes a little trite and less than fully thought out but since they fitted the character who was responsible for them I tried not to examine the quality of the philosophy too closely. The book did deal with some very genuine women's issues and some very human ones. I found the examination of female friendships particularly fascinating, touching and well done.

29 people found this helpful

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  • Mrs Hannah
  • 06-07-17

Good all round.

Good book but a little long in places. I would recommend this book how ever it's a little to far fetched in places. But worth a read.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Kaggy
  • 09-17-18

Interesting but flawed

This book is really a long musing about women's issues and I can't criticise it for that. Some of the points are interesting and well made, but as a story I found it flawed. Overall I thought it struggled with trying to deliver some important and serious points but utilising Brigit Jones style characters in farcical situations. For example one of the main sub-plots involves preventing a male character seeing something on the internet. The whole idea was that his PA had complete control over his life. This was frankly unbelievable and silly. Another character is supposed to be shocked and surprised at seeing an embarrassing event on the internet even though the event happened the night before and she knew it had been filmed. Stella was a particularly good and intriguing character but her plot turns into an absurd comedy caused by her stupid and unnecessary lies. In short I think this story should either have been a drama or a comedy and it didn't really work as both.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Sue Two
  • 07-09-17

Fantastic book well done Dawn

Gripping and full of amazing insight , absolutely loved it and the honesty she writes with. Great female characters bring the story to life and tackle some very real issues facing all modern women today.

9 people found this helpful

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  • MISS
  • 05-03-17

Best book I've listened to for years!

This book had me gripped right from the start. The characters are all likeable and have their own very different stories which end up cleverly interwoven. Every woman should read this book - can't wait for her to write another!

13 people found this helpful

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  • Mel Chambers
  • 06-02-17

Totally fab, listen now!

Great, you'll love it. Readers/voices are excellent. Unexpected twists, very funny too. Definitely worth it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Sara Mitchell
  • 09-22-17

Unintelligent

I found this book quite an interesting read, not least as its content and lack of any intelligent input completely were not in accordance with the descriptions of it as a best seller.
I think I wrote something on an equally intellectual scale at the appx age of 14 for my English homework which my mother promptly tore up when she read it.
I think pizza smelling farts and masturbation just about sums it up!
I feel sad for the women this is supposed to appeal to as makes them look totally stupid!
Maybe I'm just getting old.

52 people found this helpful

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  • N
  • 05-19-17

Brilliant book, I couldn't turn it off

This is a great, funny intimate companion of a book. I'm recommending it to all my femal friends.

5 people found this helpful

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  • hollye
  • 04-19-17

Fantastic!

I have been telling everyone I know about this fantastic book! I laughed, I wept, and above all I thought: this book is a wonderful window into the idiosyncrasies of womanhood, and the complex relationships we have with each other and ourselves. One of the best books I've picked up in a very long time. Dawn O'Porter's writing is witty, moving, and thought-provoking, and the narration is perfectly suited to the story. If in doubt, definitely give this a listen.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Cate M
  • 08-14-19

I Don't Think I'm the Target Market for This

Like I said, I don't think I'm the Target Market for this book. In fact, I'd rather give it two stars ; but I thought I'd be generous. I wanted to like this more, but simply didn't.
Although I'm a middle aged woman, I simply did not relate to these characters. The plot devices started with implausible (a "shameful" incident on the train), which I was willing to accept as a way to access the story. But then they quickly became ridiculous (i.e., Stella's behaviour). The ending with the almost tied-up-in-a-bow, but not completely, was simply bland. It was as if the author wanted to avoid the happily ever after trope, so some tragedy was thrown in.
All in all, it felt like it was trying to be feminist chic lit and ended up failing on both levels. Although the commentary on social media and public shaming, trolling, etc. was pertinent (and I shuddered at the horror of having one's actions misattributed and being so publicly judged), the book left me cold.
The reading was reasonable. It's not the worst I've heard, but could be better. I would prefer it if the reader (who is also the author) either used quite distinctive voices for each character or did not do so at all. The voices/accents seemed to merge for me and further detracted from the story.
Finally, was the book sponsored by a particular cosmetics company? It felt like the set up for a drinking game: take a shot everytime Brand X is mentioned.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-30-19

Loved it

It's a book of amazing women that find their own way and their one truth and wasn't afraid to be themselves, regardless of all the difficulties that came their way.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Annabelle
  • 08-21-18

Brilliant - loved it

Love love love .... worth reading - love Dawn O’porter - very enjoyable and great narration - great hearing Dawns voice

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-28-18

First review after reading 100s of books

I just had to review this!! I listened to this as an audio book and I’m so glad I did. Absolutely fantastic, did not want it to end. First book I have genuinely laughed out loud. Feel good book that makes you realise how amazing women really are without being too feministic.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Clare
  • 02-17-21

Thoroughly enjoyable book

Terrific story about three women finding their inner voices.. Feminism, motherhood and friendships are all intertwined into a thought-provoking, funny and fearless read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-12-21

Loved!

I really enjoyed the twist in this. Very funny, emotional, thought provoking. 10/10! Would recommend. Great narration as well.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-24-20

Loved it!

something a little different for me, but had me hooked from the moment it started.

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  • Nadia
  • 09-12-20

Amazing

Easy to listen and actually a really good story. You get attached to the characters and go through all their emotions with them

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Noinam
  • 06-05-20

Unlikeable characters come good (sort of)

I read So Lucky (loved!) before listening to The Cows which possibly made the characters in this book seem extraordinarily angry/bitter. You get why but at times it’s hard to feel empathy with them as they seem quite bonkers. An easy listen (loved Dawn narrating Tash) but not my favourite book by DO’P.

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  • Megan Gardiner
  • 04-13-20

A nice distraction from a crazy world

A nice listen at a time I needed to be
distracted. Good strong story which I was curious to see where it ended.