Book about upper east side wives
Primates of Park Avenue by Wednesday MartinLike an urban Dian Fossey, Wednesday Martin decodes the primate social behaviors of Upper East Side mothers in a brilliantly original and witty memoir about her adventures assimilating into that most secretive and elite tribe.
After marrying a man from the Upper East Side and moving to the neighborhood, Wednesday Martin struggled to fit in. Drawing on her background in anthropology and primatology, she tried looking at her new world through that lens, and suddenly things fell into place. She understood the other mothers snobbiness at school drop-off when she compared them to olive baboons. Her obsessional quest for a Hermes Birkin handbag made sense when she realized other females wielded them to establish dominance in their troop. And so she analyzed tribal migration patterns, display rituals, physical adornment, mutilation, mating practices, extra-pair copulation, and more. Her conclusions are smart, thought-provoking, and hilariously unexpected.
Every city has its Upper East Side, and in Wednesdays memoir, readers everywhere will recognize the strange cultural codes of powerful social hierarchies and the compelling desire to climb them. They will also see that Upper East Side mothers want the same things for their children that all mothers want: safety, happiness, and success;and not even sky-high penthouses and chauffeured SUVs can protect this ecologically released tribe from the universal experiences of anxiety and loss. When Wednesdays life turns upside down, she learns how deep the bonds of female friendship really are.
Intelligent, funny, and heartfelt, Primates of Park Avenue lifts a veil on a secret, elite world within a world: the exotic, fascinating, and strangely familiar culture of privileged Manhattan motherhood.
Consider the prototypical Upper East Side mommy: bleach blonde, whippet thin, perfectly manicured, stay-at-home, chemically preserved. Polite but not warm. Type A. Beautiful, sexless. Multiple houses, expensive preschools.
WHEN our family moved from the West Village to the Upper East Side in , seeking proximity to Central Park, my in-laws and a good public school, I thought it unlikely that the neighborhood would hold any big surprises. For many years I had immersed myself — through interviews, reviews of the anthropological literature and participant-observation — in the lives of women from the Amazon basin to sororities at a Big Ten school. I thought I knew from foreign. My culture shock was immediate and comprehensive. In a country where women now outpace men in college completion, continue to increase their participation in the labor force and make gains toward equal pay, it was a shock to discover that the most elite stratum of all is a glittering, moneyed backwater.
Martin, mother-of-two and wife of a banker, is the author of Primates of Park Avenue , part-memoir, part-study of young East Side mothers and their social customs. The book, published last week, has been variously described as sexist, harsh and inaccurate. It has certainly struck a nerve. The women of the district are up in arms. Many have objected to the idea of introducing primate studies to describe human dynamics.
I studied the women of the Upper East Side as if they were a tribe in a faraway land. I was writing a book about being a mother on the Upper East Side, and wives sat at entirely different tables in entirely different rooms.
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