Since moving to the seaside for her husband’s job (in Liverpool), Emma Chance’s life is all about long walks on the beach (with the dog), early nights (with the kids), and Netflix (no chill). She’s bored. And lonely.
When a school gate mum and almost-friend tells Emma about an exclusive book club – hosted by Head of the PTA (and wife of a footballer, but NOT a Footballer’s Wife) Jools Jackson – she thinks it could be the perfect solution, but she doesn’t like Jools and Jools doesn’t seem to like her either. So she’s surprised when Jools invites her along. And it’s fine. It’s not quite what Emma was looking for – she doesn’t have much in common with the other mums and the book club meetings have too much focus on the books and not enough on, say, wine and gossip – but it’s better than nothing.
After a couple of awkward months, an accident with a glass of red wine on a white carpet, and Jools’s daughter learning the word “fucknugget”, Jools tells Emma she’s no longer welcome in her club. Emma is at first self-righteous, then embarrassed – and curious about why Jools’s husband was crying in his car – but eventually settles back into boredom and loneliness again.
But Emma’s blacklisting by Jools seems to endear her to the other school mums. They all have a Jools story, along with their own tales of shame and humiliation. Long (sometimes whispered) chats at the school gates, become even longer, laughter-filled, conversations in the small library at the bottom of School Lane, until Emma realises she can start her own book club – no cleaners, polite conversation or, realistically, reading required: The Bad Mothers’ Book Club is born