Book review: Mia Freedman's book meets her critics head on

IF AUSTRALIA does have a tall poppy syndrome, Mia Freedman has most certainly been a victim, dealing with online trolls and public detractors during her visible career in magazines, television and now digital media.

Interestingly, Freedman meets much of this criticism head-on in her latest book, Work Strife Balance.

In fact, the media darling/devil, includes a no-holds barred chapter by her oldest son Luca, which paints Freedman as a forgetful and occasionally flaky mother whom he obviously adores and respects.

I appreciated Freedman's blunt honesty in the book, which covers the good and bad in everything from her work and career to marriage, motherhood, feminism and friendships as well as disordered eating, therapy and societal expectations.

Freedman's introduction puts readers in no doubt of her opinion on the concept of women "having it all" or the Utopian concept of balance.

In fact she likens it to the oft-discussed thigh gap and suggests it's another impossible standard against which women think they should be measured.

Work Strife Balance by Mia Freedman, RRP $34.99, is out now through Pan Macmillan.
Work Strife Balance by Mia Freedman, RRP $34.99, is out now through Pan Macmillan. Supplied

"A sense of balance might be found in the brief pauses we have between demands or the times we quickly catch our breath before the next thing happens in our lives, but it shouldn't be the ultimate prize," she writes.

Freedman cites her reasons for writing this book to be the same as those for creating the Mamamia website from the confines of her lounge room in 2007; a commitment to ensuring someone's giving real and mostly unfiltered messages to women of the world, or she puts it, "ensuring the survival of my tribe".

I could relate to some - but not all - of Freedman's experiences and suspect most people will be the same, but she's certainly a talented writer and gifted storyteller.

I wasn't entirely sold on the book's structure, which didn't always flow and was occasionally repetitive; but as a natural-born cynic, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed her self-deprecating warm and witty prose.

Of particular interest was Freedman's own journey from self-consciousness and bravado to self-acceptance and contentment, at least personally (if not professionally).

As an outsider looking in, it seems her standards remain high and exacting but she's made peace with previously problematic aspects of her life; such as food and her body to the expectations and thoughts of others.

She comments on the fact, for example, that her children are more upset by her detractors than she is.

She filters out the negative now, she says and listens to the voices that matter to her - those of family and trusted friends.

Work Strife Balance by Mia Freedman, RRP $34.99, is out now through Pan Macmillan. Read more reviews at