Book Blitz: ODYSSEY IN A TEACUP by Paula Houseman

Odyssey in a Teacup

Encounters with a pair of supersized Y-fronts; a humourless schoolmarm with an unfortunate name and monstrous yellow incisors; and a tut-tutting, big-breasted, modern-day gorgon are the norm for Ruth Roth. She’s used to crazy. Her mum squawks like a harpy and her dad has a dodgy moral compass. Add in daily face-offs with a relentlessly bitchy mirror, and Ruth’s home life feels like a Greek tragicomedy.
She hankers for the ordinary. But blah is not a good fit for someone who doesn’t fit in. And isn’t meant to.
Ruth’s vanilla existence is an issue for her besties—her hot-looking, obsessive-compulsive cousin and soul mate (who needs to do everything twice-twice), and her two closest girlfriends.
With their encouragement and a good homoeopathic dose of ancient mythology, Ruth embarks on an odyssey to retrieve her spirit. She’s confronted with her biggest challenge ever, though, when one of these friends sends her spiralling back into a dark place.
The decision she must make can either bring her out or launch the mother of all wars in her world. Purchase from Amazon UK –

thumbnail_Odyssey-PAULAHOUSEMANphoto_3Author Bio – Paula Houseman was once a graphic designer. But when the temptation to include ‘the finger’ as part of a logo for a forward-moving women’s company proved too much, she knew it was time to give away design. Instead, she took up writing.
She found she was a natural with the double entendres (God knows she’d been in enough trouble as a child for dirty wordplay).
As a published writer of earthy chick lit and romantic comedy, Paula gets to bend, twist, stretch and juice up universal experiences to shape reality the way she wants it, even if it is only in books. But at the same time, she can make it more real, so that her readers feel part of the sisterhood. Or brotherhood (realness has nothing to do with gender).  Through her books, Paula also wants to help the reader escape into life and love’s comic relief. And who doesn’t need to sometimes?
Her style is a tad Monty Pythonesque because she adores satire. It helps defuse all those gaffes and thoughts that no one is too proud of.
Paula lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband. No other creatures. The kids have flown the nest and the dogs are long gone.
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There were six women in this group. We all had two children and they were around the same ages. Being the organiser, Rachel held the first one at her place. The children were left to their own devices, playing where the toys were stored—either in the corner of the family room, or a bedroom, and we mothers sat in the family room. The kids got a variety of cut up fruit and cheese cubes for morning tea, and we had cheese and crackers, coffee and cake.

My kids had fun, but for me, it was like a slow death. The women talked about creative ways to clean the S-bend, how to organise your fridge perfectly, how to arrange flowers you’d bought from the fruit market to look like they were from a florist, the best way to iron and fold fitted sheets.
‘Your kids are being socialised; you’re being colonised. Get the hell out!’ was Ralph’s advice.
I couldn’t bring myself to leave, though. It was bad enough that I didn’t read books on how to parent—‘Really? You don’t refer to any parenting books?’ Charmaine, one of the mothers from the group had asked me, incredulously—but to deny my children this additional socialising opportunity would brand me as a truly shitty mother. The mirror had been hinting at it: ‘What kind of a mother are you?’ (Just like Sylvia, it framed its criticisms as questions.) And then, one particular get-together confirmed what the mirror had been implying. It also made me wonder if Hannah’s last incarnation was as a member of a foul, uncontacted primitive tribe.
I tried to keep my home clean, inasmuch as you can when you have young children, but the other women in the group were inordinately house-proud. And they were the perfect homemakers.

Rose, a well-bred, tall, slim blonde woman was the most extreme. She was the consummate mommy, who made every other mother look like a slob. At Rose’s, we drank filtered Colombian coffee, and nibbled on her low-fat, homemade chocolate muffins, which were just out of the oven.

The toys at Rose’s place were housed in a designated corner of her children’s bedrooms. Just the corner. Rose allowed no overflow. And Rose’s children were as perfect as her muffins.  Four-year-old Thomas (not Tom) and two-year-old Annabel were exceptionally and nauseatingly well behaved, and were rarely seen with a hair out of place.

Rose herself was the paragon of political correctness. Annabel carried around two dolls: Mamie, a chubby African American, and Mimi, an equally chubby Caucasian doll. Annabel and her dolls were dressed in matching outfits that Rose had meticulously hand-stitched. And there were no noonies or diddly-doos in that household, although hearing ‘vulva’ and ‘scrotum’ from the mouths of a four-year-old and a two-year-old just seemed wrong.

But despite any differences between Rose and the rest of us in the group, our main connection to her was borne of her ability to discuss current affairs. And with a Masters of Social Policy, Rose’s idea of current affairs involved exchanges about who in the community was currently having an affair with whom. Rose was an incurable gossip.
On what was about to turn into a truly rubbish morning at Rose’s place, we sipped our coffee and pecked at our muffins (I was careful not to drop any crumbs on her pristine, neatly pressed tablecloth).

Our idle chatter was interrupted by Thomas’s shrill scream.
‘Muuumeeeeeee, come quick!’
The six of us were up in a flash, bolting for the source, fearing that something terrible had happened to one of the children. The scream had come from Annabel’s bedroom, where we found them all standing around her open cupboard with stupefied looks on their faces. As we peered into it, the other mothers gasped in horror. I didn’t have my glasses on, but it looked to me like an amputated leg of Annabel’s African American doll was standing upright in the cupboard with its shoe still on.
Big bloody deal! I thought all of them were overreacting. Hannah occasionally dismembered her dolls, but so what? I didn’t see it as a macabre sign of things to come, but Rose’s response was melodramatic.
‘Who did this?’ she seethed through gritted teeth, apparently not willing to accept that Annabel herself might have ripped off her black doll’s leg. She was only two; it was hardly a racially motivated act.
The older children pointed to Hannah.
Oh, just great. I quickly moved towards the cupboard with the intention of reconnecting Mamie’s leg to the rest of her body. As I got closer, though, I understood everyone’s reaction. It was not the doll’s leg. It was an adult sized turd poking out of one of Annabel’s shoes. Oh, dear God. Oh, Hannah.
My daughter had been toilet trained for two years now, so it wasn’t as if she didn’t know what she was doing. She was also still at the age where she didn’t yet care what the neighbours thought. I, on the other hand, was mortified.

Yet, perversely, at the same time, I felt a certain amount of pride in the fact that she’d managed to position her load so appropriately. It landed squarely and cleanly in the shoe, not on it or next to it, and not horizontally or at an awkward angle. It was perfectly upright, which should have fulfilled the requirements of Rose’s ideal conditions. So, in a manner of speaking, Hannah had adapted well to her environment. Could a mother wish for more from her child? Then again, what kind of mother was I that my daughter would do this in the first place?