People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd

Reviewed by Rod McLary

With a somewhat ambiguous title, People Like Her opens up the world of Instagrammers and sets out what it takes to be a successful one with in excess of one million followers.  Does the ambiguous ‘like’ of the title mean ‘similar to’ or ‘have affection for’?  Well – both actually and both are relevant as this original and sometimes off-putting story about Emmy – the Instagrammer Mamabare – and her would-be writer husband Dan.  Emmy and Dan have two children Coco and Bear aged about four years and eight weeks respectively.

Emmy’s selling point is the truth – the unvarnished truth – about parenthood.  In her own words: ‘whether it’s a breast pad fashioned from rogue Happy Meal wrappers or a sneaky gin in a tin by the swings, you’ll always get the unvarnished truth from me’ [9]; or perhaps more honestly in Dan’s words: ‘bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit’ [10].

The structure of the novel is an interesting one.  Chapters by Emmy generally reinforce her ‘Instamama’ status and the purpose of everything she does is to enhance and grow that status.  This is counter-balanced by Dan’s more realistic view of the family – although, as Emmy rather harshly points out at one point that, from his writing, he earned £7.10 in the last financial year.  It is her endorsements and free gifts which support the family in its upper middle-class lifestyle.

The story unfolds with alternate chapters told in the first person by Emmy and Dan and in a very natural style as if both are speaking to the reader personally.  Each has his/her own perspective on what is happening and sometimes those perspectives differ.  Emmy may say ‘So that’s when I schedule my seemingly off-the-cuff, in-the-moment, but actually pre-photographed, already-written posts’ [29]; while Dan will say ‘the version of events that Emmy always recounts, the one about starting to blog about motherhood as a way of reaching out and seeing if there was anyone out there who was going through the same stuff as her?  Complete bullshit, I’m afraid’ [13].

To provide another and a quite different perspective, there are chapters written in italics and told in the first person by an unidentified follower of Mamabare.  These chapters address Emmy directly.  As the story progresses, the follower discloses more and more of her backstory and it becomes increasingly clear that her intentions are not honourable.  An indication of what the follower has in mind can be no clearer than the first line in the first chapter by her: ‘Was that the night I finally decided how I would hurt you? [15]

As in real life when we move through time not knowing what is waiting for us in the next five minutes, Emmy and Dan move through their lives – Emmy as the successful and rather narcissistic Instamama, Dan as the struggling writer seeing Emmy with an increasingly jaundiced eye – as does the deranged follower who is plotting when to hurt Emmy in the cruellest way.  The tension which develops as the follower moves slowly towards the delivery of the hurt and as Emmy’s and Dan’s lives slowly but obliviously [to them] unravel is very engrossing and the reader may easily feel like shouting at Emmy to wake up to herself.

The lives of the three protagonists collide towards the end of the story.  But there is a twist – unexpected but on reflection unsurprising – which most readers will not foresee.  Overall, People Like Her is a good light read which will engage the reader even if he/she may have – at least initially – little sympathy for Emmy.

The author’s name Ellery Lloyd is the pseudonym for husband-and-wife writing team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos.  Collette is an editor and journalist and Paul is the author of two previous novels – Welcome to the Working Week and Every day is Like Sunday.  He is the programme director for English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Surrey.

People Like Her

[2021]

by Ellery Lloyd

Pan Macmillan

ISBN 978 15290 393 99

$32.99; 318pp

Reviewed by Rod McLary

With a somewhat ambiguous title, People Like Her opens up the world of Instagrammers and sets out what it takes to be a successful one with in excess of one million followers.  Does the ambiguous ‘like’ of the title mean ‘similar to’ or ‘have affection for’?  Well – both actually and both are relevant as this original and sometimes off-putting story about Emmy – the Instagrammer Mamabare – and her would-be writer husband Dan.  Emmy and Dan have two children Coco and Bear aged about four years and eight weeks respectively.

Emmy’s selling point is the truth – the unvarnished truth – about parenthood.  In her own words: ‘whether it’s a breast pad fashioned from rogue Happy Meal wrappers or a sneaky gin in a tin by the swings, you’ll always get the unvarnished truth from me’ [9]; or perhaps more honestly in Dan’s words: ‘bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit bullshit’ [10].

The structure of the novel is an interesting one.  Chapters by Emmy generally reinforce her ‘Instamama’ status and the purpose of everything she does is to enhance and grow that status.  This is counter-balanced by Dan’s more realistic view of the family – although, as Emmy rather harshly points out at one point that, from his writing, he earned £7.10 in the last financial year.  It is her endorsements and free gifts which support the family in its upper middle-class lifestyle.

The story unfolds with alternate chapters told in the first person by Emmy and Dan and in a very natural style as if both are speaking to the reader personally.  Each has his/her own perspective on what is happening and sometimes those perspectives differ.  Emmy may say ‘So that’s when I schedule my seemingly off-the-cuff, in-the-moment, but actually pre-photographed, already-written posts’ [29]; while Dan will say ‘the version of events that Emmy always recounts, the one about starting to blog about motherhood as a way of reaching out and seeing if there was anyone out there who was going through the same stuff as her?  Complete bullshit, I’m afraid’ [13].

To provide another and a quite different perspective, there are chapters written in italics and told in the first person by an unidentified follower of Mamabare.  These chapters address Emmy directly.  As the story progresses, the follower discloses more and more of her backstory and it becomes increasingly clear that her intentions are not honourable.  An indication of what the follower has in mind can be no clearer than the first line in the first chapter by her: ‘Was that the night I finally decided how I would hurt you? [15]

As in real life when we move through time not knowing what is waiting for us in the next five minutes, Emmy and Dan move through their lives – Emmy as the successful and rather narcissistic Instamama, Dan as the struggling writer seeing Emmy with an increasingly jaundiced eye – as does the deranged follower who is plotting when to hurt Emmy in the cruellest way.  The tension which develops as the follower moves slowly towards the delivery of the hurt and as Emmy’s and Dan’s lives slowly but obliviously [to them] unravel is very engrossing and the reader may easily feel like shouting at Emmy to wake up to herself.

The lives of the three protagonists collide towards the end of the story.  But there is a twist – unexpected but on reflection unsurprising – which most readers will not foresee.  Overall, People Like Her is a good light read which will engage the reader even if he/she may have – at least initially – little sympathy for Emmy.

The author’s name Ellery Lloyd is the pseudonym for husband-and-wife writing team Collette Lyons and Paul Vlitos.  Collette is an editor and journalist and Paul is the author of two previous novels – Welcome to the Working Week and Every day is Like Sunday.  He is the programme director for English Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Surrey.

People Like Her

[2021]

by Ellery Lloyd

Pan Macmillan

ISBN 978 15290 393 99

$32.99; 318pp

close

🤞 Want to get the latest book reviews in your inbox?

🤞 Want to get the latest book reviews in your inbox?

Scroll to Top