This week is quite the occasion on The Grown-Up Girls Report book club! A real milestone! I am so delighted to introduce you to the very talented Petronella McGovern, an Aussie author who will be talking to me about her best selling book – Six Minutes! Six Minutes is a psychological thriller with a big dose of women’s fiction thrown in also.

So, sit back and make yourself a cuppa, because this week’s episode is something quite different!

The very talented Petronella

Introducing Petronella…

From a very early age, Petronella McGovern always had her head stuck in a book – either reading one or writing her own stories. When she was growing up on a farm outside Bathurst, her stories featured talking animals and mysteries to solve – thanks to the influences of Beatrix Potter, as well as The Famous Five. Petronella has worked in marketing and communications and co-written two non-fiction books.

Her debut novel, Six Minutes, was published last year. Petronella is fascinated by people – what makes us tick, how we view the world, and the lies we tell others and ourselves. She’s interested in the complexities of relationships and the dynamics in families. Her second novel, The Good Teacher, which is set on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, will be out in September.

About Six Minutes

Petronella describes Six Minutes as a domestic thriller. It is set in Merrigang, a fictional town just outside Canberra. One Thursday morning, Lexie Parker dashes to the shop for biscuits, leaving 3 year-old Bella in the care of the other mums at the community playgroup they have just joined after settling in the town. Six minutes later, Bella is gone.

Police and media then descend onto Merrigang and join with the locals to search the dense bushland for find Bella. But as the investigation continues, relationships start to fracture, online hate messages target Lexie, and the community is engulfed by fear. The book follows the search for Bella and what happens for Bella in the six minutes.

When Petronella’s son was 3, he went missing at Questacon. Understandably, she found this incredible stressful – who wouldn’t! – and after he was found, she just couldn’t stop thinking about the incident. At the time she was also attending a playgroup. And it got her thinking – what would happen if a child went missing in a safe place, how would everyone respond? And the idea for the book was born…

Why Alex Loved It

Alex (left) and Petronella McGovern (right)

The book is written from 5 different perspectives: the parents of Bella – Lexie and Marty, local detective Caruso, local school teacher Brendan and playgroup mum (and frustrated mummy blogger) Tara. This gives an additional level of interest to the story as not all characters are privy to the same level on information about the investigation.

The characters are so real! Whether it is the playgroup mums, the local police detective, the very honest and real relationship between Bella’s parents, Marty and Lexie – you will empathise with so many of them!

You will reminisce about your playgroup days and the many stresses of being a new mum: sleep deprivation, feeling isolated and feeling overwhelmed.

The book is very much a celebration of the power of community which will remind you about how well ‘us Aussies’ can rally when we are faced with a crisis.

A toxic online hate campaign forms a key part of the storyline. Petronella is very keen for us think about the negative consequences of social media. Yes, it can be a powerful tool for connection but it can also be used to harm others and cause damage.

This book is a reminder of not being quick to judge others, the importance of stepping back and being kind.

Alex thoroughly enjoyed the book and can’t wait to read Petronella’s 2nd book that is coming out in September – The Kind Teacher.

You can listen to the podcast via your favourite podcast app, or by clicking on the link below.

Thanks so much for being part of the book club!

Alex xx

PS Our book for next week is The Stationery Shop of Tehran by Marjam Kamail