Like 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, and 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 Wednesday's memoir listeners 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 Wednesday's 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.
©2015 Wednesday Martin. All rights reserved. (P)2015 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
This book was exactly what I needed for a quick, summer vacation listen. She is not an anthropologist, but tells you in the end the extent of her anthropology background. The book opens on each story and topic as if it were a research paper, but it's not really like that at all so don't be afraid or disappointed. It's a book about a woman's life that feels like girl talk when you need a girlfriend who's willing to sit down and analyze your first world problems. Other reviews claim she's whiny, which concerned me because I didn't want to listen to a spineless wimp, but I found that the author's problems relatable and honest. Clearly, if you don't waste time relating to other people's feelings this book is not for you. If you dive into this book, though, you'll enjoy it like a good conversation with your girlfriends. Don't expect a life changing story or big, triumphant happy ending. Do expect some laughs, some sadness, some "screw her" moments, some interesting stories on other people's lives.
Oh, the narration ... I just couldn't listen - tried to analyze what made me nuts, and decided that the combination of over-enunciation, monotonous modulation, and emphasis on wrong words in a sentence pretty much amounted to the eery conclusion that it was being "read" by a robot. Think female H.A.L. from "2001 - A Space Odyssey"
Really need to get the book however, because it does seem worth a read.
If ever there was an argument to solve income inequality, this is it. I felt downright sorry for folks living on the Upper East Side. We need to help them. If that’s what money does to people—people who it turns out really do have feelings—I want no part of it. Hard to believe you can be an educated adult person with the world placed at your doorstep, and your interests revolve around handbags and being thinner than. So much stress and fear of their own making.
Also frightening, once in this world, the author longs to be part of the in-crowd. Could that happen to me? Could I ever spend time researching, groveling with a salesperson for and then finally justify paying $10,000 for a purse?
I suspect, if studied, we all are guilty of the posturing and petty acts the mommy’s of the Upper East Side display. Thankfully, our limited financial situations keep us in check, empathetic, and connected to each other, so we don’t have to wait for a crisis to jolt us into remembering our humanity.
Fascinating look into a horrible world. Definitely a fun read.
My favorite genres are absurdist humor, Sci-fi & modern fantasy, but, as you can see, I'll read just about anything. Don't mind the typos.
Interesting easy listen. Absolute chick-lit. Not much science as the cover blurb suggests. I enjoyed it but, like I said, reads more like a gossip column than anything.
I have edited 38 national best sellers and had a writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
I hadn't read detailed reviews of this book and was pleasantly surprised by the anthropological slant Martin takes in her content. She moves from downtown Manhattan to Park Avenue, which is akin to taking up residence in a foreign country. An outsider wanting and needing to make friends for herself and her children, she has to learn to fit in.
These very, very wealthy Upper East Side young mothers are part of a social hierarchy that's tough to crack. Using her education and experiences as an anthropologist, Martin analyzes the women's behavior, likening it to scholarly studies of female apes. She does what is necessary (like buying an outrageously expensive purse) to blend in and go native.
These young women who have everything money can buy are, you'll learn, under enormous pressures I am happy not to have in my own life. I clench my teeth enough in my relatively ordinary existence. You will also learn how much you have in common with them, and all women, no matter where you live or what's in your wallet.
As someone who has studied anthropology I found this book an interesting read. It is simple enough for someone with no background but I the parts I enjoyed most were her 'field notes' on the costuming of her tribe. Overall it's a more cerebral than your average chick lit but would never the less fit loosely into that category.
Is it exaggerated? Probably. But then women on the Upper East Side do strike me as another species altogether. Doesn't matter. It was really fun and not mean-spirited. I would recommend it for light reading.
The chief problem here isn't that the book is written by a shallow, self-absorbed, useless person who rather blithely reveals significant character flaws, including a rampant materialism--it's that it is horribly boring. A few of the UES details are interesting (all of which have been reported in the press), and possibly invented, but I don't care about the author, her "friends," or any of her half-baked anthropological analysis. Just stupid. Don't waste your money. Because she will.
"Was really interesting and different"
I 1 enjoyed listening to this title. It was interesting to hear about a different way of life from the prospective of someone who had lived it first hand. The narrator was a little dull to listen to at times though.
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