BOOK EXTRACT: Chapter One of How To Be Perfect by Holly Wainwright.

How To Be Perfect is Mamamia’s Holly Wainwright’s second novel, and a sequel to last year’s The Mummy Bloggers. The Mummy Bloggers followed three women writing about their lives online, and ended with one of them, Elle Campbell, humiliated and exposed as a fraud for faking her own husband’s cancer, running away from her life, and vowing to re-emerge, stronger than ever…



Frances had been aiming for an Elle Campbell kind of morning but, frankly, things had turned to shit. So far, her day bore very little resemblance to Elle’s latest blog.

Good morning, Goddesses.

Let’s begin where everything does—with the purest possible start to your day.

Here’s what works for me.

I wake with the sun. Strangely enough, so does Alma. This tiny old soul seems to know when the world is ready for her. She starts the day with stretches. It’s as if every morning she remembers she has arms and she throws them over her head in delight. And now, so do I.

The light on Gurva farm is at its most dazzling at dawn, so after I mimic baby’s stretches she and I head out onto the deck to watch the sun roll towards us up the hill. Then I lay her down on her pure wool rug while I do 15 minutes of my mindful Elle-ness Moves™. Alma is always so peaceful watching me—she just lies there, cooing and giggling.

Then, me and my little shadow head to the kitchen. I throw back a shot-glass of bee pollen dissolved in warm, filtered water. Then I whizz up a Pure Start smoothie™—activated tree nuts blended in (filtered) organic coconut water with kale, organic blueberries, lady-finger bananas from the farm’s plantation, psyllium, a teaspoon of raw cacao nibs, a sprinkle of gold-leaf powder (for that inner glow), a dash of milk thistle and a twist of bush-lime leaf.

I blend it thoroughly in my new Nutrimullet, which we had modified to run silently so it doesn’t break into the peaceful early-morning energy of the farm, or disturb BB’s meditation practice (gosh, he can be a grumpy bear without his morning med!). I whizz it for 90 seconds until it’s ready to pop into my bamboo tumbler and be sipped through my copper straw, while I nurse Alma and quietly set my intention for the day.

Today’s intention: Forgive those who have caused me pain.

Wishing you a beautiful, pure start, too. It really is the secret to moving through your day in a state of productive grace.

E xxxxx

PS: If that sounds like a lot for breakfast, you’ll be relieved to know that I sip it slowly throughout the morning, loosening it with a gentle shake and a splash more coconut water. xx

If Frances was being honest, that didn’t sound like a lot for breakfast.

As she re-read Elle’s smoothie recipe, Frances was standing in front of the blender with baby Denny squalling on one hip, her phone in her other hand. She only had half the ingredients, and she’d still spent eighty-nine dollars at the health-food shop.

‘Good job I’ll be back at work soon, right, Den?’ she said. ‘Although I don’t think this is quite what your dad has in mind.’

Frances put the phone down to scrape out the last of the psyllium—whatever the hell that was—from the tub with a plastic baby spoon, the only clean, dry implement she could find, one-handed, at this very moment. And it had to be this very moment, because she was so hungry she wasn’t sure she could stay upright for as long as it was going to take for her very non-silent blender to chop through all this stuff.


‘Shhhhh, Denny, shhhhh . . .’ Frances gave him the plastic spoon to gum on as she tried to slice a supermarket banana with a butter knife. ‘What’s the matter with you, anyway? You just had a feed . . .’

Frances’s morning wasn’t as pure as she’d hoped. Denny had woken at five, which wasn’t unusual, and he seemed even more ‘unsettled’ than yesterday. He hadn’t let her put him down for three hours now.

Tipping the remains of the tub into her cracked old blender and muttering under her breath, Frances wondered whether it qualified as a ‘pure start’ if you’d been cursing solidly since you woke up.


She’d tried. Frances had taken Denny out to the sunroom after his first boob-feed and laid him on her Jmart ‘sheepskin’ rug in the hope of getting some yoga stretches in, her old work laptop open to one of Elle’s videos.

But Frances couldn’t touch her toes anymore, her insides hurt, and Denny just kept on whining. She’d thrown him the teething giraffe her sister-in-law had given her, then started chanting her mantra, the one she’d promised herself she’d use every day as she stretched.

‘I am in love with my life. I am in love with my life. I am in love with my . . .’

But the morning trucks outside her window were drowning out her inner monologue, and she couldn’t help being conscious of the sensation of her stomach rolls bulging every time she bent towards her toes.

Frances switched mantras, to one of Elle’s. ‘I am a work in progress, I am an unfinished masterpiece, I am a work in progress . . .’

The smell that hit her nostrils as she tried to get her nose to her knees cut things short. Denny needed changing.

Now Frances was standing at the fridge door, scouring for that six-dollar coconut water she’d bought yesterday. And still she forgot the psyllium. Perhaps if she could have sprung for the gold leaf, she’d be feeling better by now. Or if she just had the discipline to make it through those bloody stretches.


No wonder she and Denny weren’t moving through this day with positive grace.

Listen to Holly discuss How To Be Perfect with Mia Freedman and Jessie Stephens on a special book edition of Mamamia Out Loud, here. 

‘Did you drink that coconut water I bought yesterday?’ she found herself yelling from the fridge towards the bedroom. ‘Troy?’

Frances pictured him coming home from work last night, tired and hot and possibly a little bit drunk, grabbing the cold bottle from the fridge door and sculling, before pulling away and looking at the label like, ‘bleurgh’. She closed the fridge, Denny still whining in her right arm, and went to peer into the bin. Sure enough, there was the half-finished bottle of Orgococo Gold.

‘You didn’t even put it in the recycling!’ Frances yelled again towards the closed bedroom door, then went back to the blender. ‘Well, Denny,’ she kissed her baby on his head as he rhythmically whacked her shoulder with the teething giraffe, ‘no coconut water, no gold, no blueberries. What would Elle do?’ She grabbed the blender and stuck it under the running tap for a moment. ‘Sydney water’s finest will have to do, Den.’


After ramming on the cracked lid, she flipped the switch to high. Whirring and crunching filled the kitchen, the blades stalling and screeching against the raw nuts. What Frances wouldn’t do for a Nutrimullet.

Denny started screaming in time with the blender. Frances held the lid on with one hand and jiggled him with the other.

‘For fuck’s sake, Frank!’ Troy’s voice broke through the racket. He was standing in the kitchen doorway, distractingly naked, bleary, rubbing his head. ‘Can’t you just have toast like a normal person?’

Frances flicked off the blender and poured some of the sludgy green-brown mixture into a wineglass—the only clean vessel within easy reach. ‘Cheers, Troy,’ she said, taking a swig and trying not to flinch: it tasted like bin. Denny’s pudgy little arms reached towards the smoothie. She put it down and handed the baby to her partner as she pushed past him. ‘I’m going to the gym.’

‘Seriously?’ he asked. ‘But I only got in at two.’

‘I am a work in progress,’ she called back to him from the corridor. ‘And I am going to the gym.’

I’ve got to get to Gurva, Frances thought, as she smashed down the stairs, flicking bits of smoothie from her shirt. One of Elle Campbell’s retreats will sort this rubbish out.

You can buy How To Be Perfect, here