Ivy Ames, 40-something mother of two, loses her high-flying job (to downsizing) and her husband (to their neighbor) in the same day. To pay for her daughters' private schooling, she starts a new business helping wealthy Manhattanites get their resume-toting youngsters into the best kindergartens. Soon her clients include media moguls, mob bosses, and a lesbian couple that believes their adopted African-American disabled son is "the triple crown of diversity" who schools will clamor to enroll.
Prepare to laugh uncontrollably, and possibly be a little frightened, by this witty look at our sometimes preposterous society.
©2005 Karen Quinn; (P)2005 Recorded Books, LLC
"A guilty pleasure worth indulging." (Booklist)
If I had picked this book up in print form, I probably would never have finished reading it. The main character, Ivy, is rather unappealing and the story is filled with lots of improbable happenings. However, it worked well as an audiobook and I enjoyed listening to it while working out on the treadmill at the gym. It had humorous moments with some interesting characters. The main problem with the audio was the narrator's voice, which was rather high pitched and whiny.
I was expecting a fun bit of fluff based on the reviews. Instead, this book was a series of negative gender and racial stereotypes. The main character lies and manipulates her way through her life. She mocks her good friend's physical shortcomings, and goes on about other hating other women's perfect bodies. She worries about being pretty and skinny, and likes having a strong man around. Every character is evaluated by their income and possessions. The story moves briskly along, but its one nails dragging across the chalkboard moment after another. She doesn't really learn, as much as she is finally backed into a corner. A nice corner. I can see how this might have been funny if she was balls out evil, but we seem to be supposed to believe, as she and her friends do, that she is actually a nice person inside. Yech! 12 hours of this was way too much!
I wanted to like this book. But, I was offended by the author's unexamined contention that qualified wealthy White children were being kept out of elite private schools by less qualified minority children. She doesn't come right out and say that the minority children are less qualified. But Ivy and her friends clearly see the efforts to create ethnic diversity in predominately White elite private schools as problematic. She even goes so far as to have Ivy encourage a White child to impersonate as Black in order to gain admittance to a prestigious school. Apparently this was supposed to be light and entertaining. It wasn't. The whiny, self-consumed attitude of the main character was also highly annoying. The Nanny Diaries are MUCH better.
Ugh. The main character's primary tool when faced with a challenge is to lie. Whenever the story came to a point where the character should show some ethics, she doesn't. It makes me wonder what the author is like in real life. The books sets the stage early on, drawing a character who is unethical and unsympathetic. I figured it would end in triumph with her having a miraculous transformation. Nope. She ends up keeping most of a bribe and clearly never really learns anything.
On top of this, it wasn't funny, it wasn't dramatic, and it wasn't even very entertaining. It pretty much was nothing.
There seems to be no middle ground on this book and this reading. I thought it was a stitch but can understand why some were not able to relate to it. It may appeal to women more than men; it also may seem more real if you understand that this competitive world for kindergarden placement truly exists. However, condemning the book because the heroine makes some bad moral choices is taking life and one's reading material too serious. This is fiction, folks, not religion and fiction this reader found very funny.
Don't know whether the book is good or bad. Do know that the reader is awful. Miscast. The reading is the equivalent of casting a 9-year child to read the part of a powerhouse executive. Forget it.
Two main reasons why you should pass this one up:
1 - The protagonist is a whinny, shallow, lying, unfaithful, cheating person. Very difficult to identify with a character like that.
2 - Some parts of the plot are highly unrealistic (alligators haven't eaten humans for many years, let alone three at once!)
If you can get past wanting to slap the portagonist and the unrealistic events,then the writing is not too bad, but ultimately not worth the time.
Disappointing and predictable. This is one book that I wish had been in an abridged form so that I would have wasted less time listening. The narrator did an excellent job of "sounding the Part" of the shallow and whiney Ivy Ames.
This book definitely had its funny moments and is probably worth reading if you're in the mood for something light that doesn't require you to think much. I just wish I could have sympathised with the protagonist. She is completely willing to do horrible things to get what she wants and doesn't really feel bad about it until someone calls her on it. Even worse, she is extremely quick to judge the actions of those around her even as she does things that are, at times, far worse.
I think it's worth mentioning that there are a couple of semi-graphic sex scenes in this book. I'd avoid it if that sort of thing offends you at all. I wasn't offended myself, but did think it was a bit out of place in this type of book.
The reader is a bit whiny though does a pretty good job on the female characters' voices. The men, however, all have the exact same voice, speak very slowly for no apparent reason, and sound clinically depressed. It reminded me of British actors portraying American characters. They typically seem to believe that speaking in the flattest tone possible produces an American accent. This reader seems to have a similar view on men's voices.
The Ivy Chronicles is hilarious! I've thoroughly enjoyed the story, as well as the superb reader. If you're looking for a good novel that's endless fun, you'll enjoy this book. The descriptions and punning names made me laugh out loud. Granted, I did look like a nutcase listening (and laughing) to this on my iPod in the grocery store, but who wouldn't laugh at the description of "Baby Face" the new at-home Botox injection that makes its unwitting users look like stroke victims?
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