Author: Wednesday Martin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
There’s a lot of controversy around the truthfulness of Wednesday Martin’s Primates of Park Avenue and to be honest, her style of writing and her stories seem somewhat falsified without the claims made in the media. Wednesday and her husband move into an apartment on Park Avenue, and while the author takes a humorous, Jane Goodall and the apes type approach to her observations on the socialite wives of the wealthiest neighbourhood in Manhattan, her descriptions don’t really allow us to get to know these women and their inner thoughts, feelings and experiences. Martin’s observations come off as the thoughts of the scorned outsider, eager to fit in, but decidedly never fully included in the goings on of the group that she so desires to assimilate in to.
While Martin’s style of writing had me chuckling sometimes, imaging the women as bonobos, gorillas, or various apes, her descriptions do little to share the truth of these women’s lives. She glosses over their struggles with anxiety and the immense pressure to fit into a world that expects an incredible amount, to focus instead on the ridiculous prices of handbags and blowouts. It was a bit of a struggle to read because I wanted more. Her stories felt like anecdotes and gossip told at the lunch table with your gals, not the truth of the life of these women who, although are extraordinarily affluent, live an intense life of expected perfection and unattainable expectations.
I was not as impressed as I’d hoped with Martin’s book. A bit of a flop in my opinion.