Book Review – “Grace Under Pressure” by Tori Haschka

June 22, 2021

In these modern and unpredictable times, women never “have it all”, even when social media would like us to believe so. In Tori Haschka’s debut novel, “Grace Under Pressure”, Instagram food blogger Grace Harkness endeavours her best to portray to the outside world that her life is nothing but fabulous. However, all is not as it seems. Despite living in idyllic Freshwater, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches with her husband and two children, Grace’s life is unravelling, and after her husband has had one too many business trips overseas, leaving her alone with the children, she gives him the flick and decides to invite her two close friends, Shelly and Petra, to move in with her, along with their small offspring.
 
Thus, Grace, Shelly and Petra find themselves living in a modern day type of ‘Commune for Mothers’, and yet all is not running as smoothly in this modern day set-up as the women would like the other Mums in the Beaches Mums Facebook group to believe. Despite the ideal of a Mother’s Utopia, where the child minding, school pick ups and drop offs, cooking and housework are shared, as time goes on in Grace’s newly created normality, individual flaws and misplaced intentions surface, and all three women begin to realise that this beachside ‘refuge’ is not what they originally signed up for.
 
Overwhelmed by too many demands in her life, Grace’s mental descent into a dark mental abyss is perfectly understandable, if heartbreaking and shattering.
 
“Grace Under Pressure” is a realistic, insightful portrayal of modern motherhood that exposes the less than shiny lives that those on Instagram regularly portray of themselves.
 
I couldn’t help but compare Grace, Shelly and Petra’s lives as mothers with those of my grandmothers and even great grandmothers. They would have been incredulous and aghast at the lives of Grace and her friends. One great grandmother had work scrubbing floors while she was heavily pregnant, and another was abandoned by her husband when she had seven children and no income. Maybe Grace, Shelly and Petra’s forebears would have envied them – the choices they had and the lifestyle they embraced. Grace, Shelly and Petra certainly have their voices heard more in the world than women in previous decades and centuries.
 
I recommend  “Grace Under Pressure” for all women, particularly the mothers in our society. It leaves the reader appreciating and applauding the devotion and sacrifice of all mothers in this age, and reminds us of the enduring power of female friendship.