Review: Underbelly by Anna Whitehouse

I’ve been back on a contemporary fiction kick recently, so when Underbelly, a modern look at female friendships through the lens of social media, fell through my letterbox last month, I was all ears.

Underbelly follows two women whose children attend the same primary school, and examines the darker side of social media, the less glamorous side of being an influencer, and the harsh realities of gossip sites.

It follows Lois, a ‘mumfluencer’ with a seemingly perfect life, and Dylan, a single mum trying to protect her son from her abusive ex whilst struggling to make ends meet. The two mums are bought together and their lives both suffer because of their presence on social media.

It’s a dark read that drags you in quite quickly, I found both Lois and Dylan really intriguing and I wanted to know more about them straight away. I found the introduction of the gossip site ‘Influenza’ to be the best hook in this story, we see a lot of influencer characters in contemporary fiction these days but we don’t often get a good look at the darker side of the industry. It felt particularly poignant in a time where ‘be kind’ is spouted all over social media whilst people still gossip and leave harmful comments everywhere.

Without spoiling the ending, I really love that the authors went a different route with the ‘twist’ than the expected in a tale with domestic violence. It was dark, thought provoking and somewhat unexpected.

This book provoked a lot of thoughts about how we talk about other women online, and definitely made me think a little bit more about the accounts I choose to engage with.

A great one to read and discuss with your female friends, I particularly think this would make a good bookclub read!

★★★★★

Underbelly is available from your local independent bookstores from tomorrow August 5th, or Amazon.

Trigger warnings for pregnancy loss, domestic violence, self harm and attempted suicide.

Thank you to Orion books for the advanced copy!