Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller!
The book that has outraged the social elite!
“Amusing, perceptive and…deliciously evil” —The New York Times Book Review
“Juicy, sexy, bawdy stuff” —New York Daily News
“Think Gossip Girl, but with a sociological study of the parents.” —InStyle.com
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, 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 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.
When Martin, a social researcher with a background in anthropology, moves from her laid-back West Village neighborhood to the rarefied atmosphere of Manhattan's Upper East Side to be closer to her in-laws, she finds herself in a world of the 1% that is often wholly unwelcoming, inhabited by the noxious and entitled. Though she's definitely not poor, Martin's also not on the level of her new neighbors, who vacation in Aspen for every winter break and think nothing of shelling out $25,000 on kids' finger paintings at a school function. In this memoir, which has been the subject of controversy, Martin approaches her new environs anthropologically, studying the mean mommies and their hierarchies as they relate to each other (silently and intensely at their beloved Physique 57 classes, in which their determination to get cut and look ever younger is palpable) and outsiders like Martin (with hostility, the cut direct, and sometimes outright aggression). However, when she suffers an unexpected tragedy, she receives nothing but kindness from some of the women and gains perspective on what is frivolous and what is truly meaningful. The Midwest-raised Martin is easy for readers to sympathize with as she attempts to find new friends while old ones drift away, and hopes to not be treated as a playground pariah while securing playdates for her son. It's hard, though, to care about her neighbors and even about Martin when she finds herself coveting an $8,000 Berkin bag in order to show dominance within the pack.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I was surprised to read some negative reviews of this book and wondered if it was because people tend to be way more critical of people who have money. Regardless, I found the book to be a fascinating take on the view that we are merely highly evolved mammals, not that much different than our subprimate relatives. She supports her theories with interesting examples and astute observations and insights into social interaction and behavior that we all experience similarly, despite different socio-economic circumstances. Highly entertaining read!
ZzzZz...boring ripoff of "The Nanny Diaries"
Okay...was really looking forward to this book after reading the NYT excerpts. All I can say now is they definitely excerpted the best parts.
This book is SUCH a snooze, a total (bad) ripoff of "The Nanny Diaries (author completely stole the primate/anthropologist angle, but whatever...) and just...boring. I found myself skipping entire sections when she would describe the behavior of monkeys in relation to UES women. They dragged on and on, and really, are we here for the monkeys? No.
Also way too much talk about the author herself, and not in an entertaining way at all.
The women she describes are not given names. They are lumped together and it is difficult to connect with the story for this reason. Would have much preferred a specific story with names changed...but because the author is a part of the world she describes, she was too scared to do that. LAME.
Don't waste your money. If you're interested in this world, read "The Nanny Diaries," which is hilarious and touching. This is just bad.
Light on science, heavy on self adulation