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Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA Paperback – August 7, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Cat fights erupt among Applewood's soccer moms in Meister's eager-to-please debut. The local PTA, driven by über-wife Suzanne Podobinski, is raising money to build a small stadium at the elementary school when a location scout, searching for a place to film a movie starring George Clooney, happens into their Long Island town. The PTA quickly dissolves into factious committees, and Meister uses the ladies' competitiveness to delve into the histrionic relationships of suburban housewives: lawyer Maddie Schein has an inferiority complex that's exacerbated when she imagines her chiropractor husband has a crush on his cousin; brash, show-offy songwriter Ruth Moss secretly longs for satisfaction after three years of caring for her impotent, half-paralyzed husband; and mousy Lisa Slotnick, married to a millionaire computer geek, is in for a rocky ride after her alcoholic singer mother shows up. As tension mounts, the ladies cast aspersions, scheme, connive and resort to blackmail (a ploy that comes in handy after Suzanne is spotted in a poolside ménage à trois). The comic book"inspired cover and Lisa Kudrow blurb are the icing on this cupcake of a novel. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

It's every woman's fantasy to have a film--location crew select her hometown for the next movie starring a major cinematic sex symbol (in this case, George Clooney), and when an Applewood, Long Island, elementary school, is deemed a possible site for Clooney's upcoming flick, the members of the upscale community's PTA go into hyperbolic overdrive to turn fantasy into reality. As members of the PR committee, it will fall to Maddie, Ruth, and Lisa to polish Applewood's somewhat spotty reputation when the producers come to town. Accomplishing such a massive public-relations coup would be difficult enough, but add Maddie's failing marriage, Ruth's clandestine affair (with the school superintendent, no less), and Lisa's alcoholic mother to the mix, and you have women facing challenges that make the typical Saturday morning PTA bake sale look like a piece of cake. With sexy characters, sharp dialogue, and snappy pacing, Meister's sassy, saucy debut novel could well turn into a movie of its own. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (July 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060824816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060824815
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,542,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ellen Meister has written five novels: DOROTHY PARKER DRANK HERE (Putnam 2015), FAREWELL, DOROTHY PARKER (Putnam 2013), THE OTHER LIFE (Putnam 2011), THE SMART ONE (HarperCollins 2008) and SECRET CONFESSIONS OF THE APPLEWOOD PTA (HarperCollins 2006). She has also published short stories and essays, and one novelette, THE WISHING CAKE. She teaches creative writing at Hofstra University Continuing Education, and does public speaking about her books and other writing-related issues. Ellen runs a popular Dorothy Parker page on Facebook at For more information visit

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Myfanwy Collins on August 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
What you notice first and foremost about Ellen Meister's debut novel is how humane she is as a writer. The women she writes about are real--they are not caricatures, they are not stereotypes. Instead they fall down, they embarrass themselves, they lose control. They lust, they fight, they envy, they are jealous. They are passionate, they are smart, they love. Basically, they are human.

And in that, we love them and we root for them. And when the book is at its end, we have a hard time letting them go.

Hard for me to say which of the three main characters is my favorite: is it the brilliant Maddie, who loses some of her self-esteem over the years when she believes that her marriage is broken beyond repair? Or is it quiet and unassuming Lisa, who seethes beneath the surface after a lifetime of taking care of her selfish mother? Or is it Ruth, who lost not only her husband but also the better part of herself after his stroke?

The truth is, they are all my favorites.

I cheered when Maddie realized that her marriage was only wounded from a bit of overuse, and when Lisa realized that she is her own best mother, and when Ruth regained the love of herself and all of the glories she has to offer the world. I cheered because I felt genuine affection for all of these women. I cherished their success and felt comforted by their friendship.

But don't let the serious tone of this reader fool you. What you should know is that this book is also funny. Indeed, there are times when you will laugh out loud and shake your head in wonder at Meister's impeccable sense of timing (not to mention her eye for physical humor).

In short, the book's a gem.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on August 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Suzanne Podobinski leads the Applewood, Long Island elementary school PTA drive to raise funds to build a small stadium with everything going smoothly as everyone is in agreement and gets on with one another. That changes when a Hollywood location scout visits Applewood to ascertain whether Appleton Elementary would make a good locale for a George Clooney movie. That information sends the PTA members squabbling into two camps that of President Suzanne and three opponents.

The enemies of President Suzanne are divided except in opposition to her and not wanting to spend time doing the symbolic PTA gig. Lawyer Maddie Schein is more concerned that her husband desires his cousin not her so the PTA is not important. Songwriter Ruth Moss is tired mentally after three years as the sole caretaker of her partially paralyzed spouse and dreams of making love with Clooney but guiltily settles for a local school superintendent. Lisa Slotnick wife of a millionaire computer genius feels as if her past has destroyed her standing when her alcoholic mother visits her. Still each of these ladies has their own PTA concept and will use extortion and blackmail to achieve their objective; but if they team up watch out Suzanne, Clooney and anyone one else challenging the Applewood PTA insurgency.

Tongue in cheek, this understated battle of the suburban PTA moms is an amusing deep tale that focuses on how important it is to have time for oneself but also must believe in oneself. The four female protagonists are fully developed characters with self anointed VIP Suzanne battling to insure her three opponents remain divided while her adversaries know they must overcome their personal agendas and unite if they want to win. The contest brings out the best and the worst in the Applewood PTA.

Harriet Klausner
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robin Slick on August 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Because I see others have sufficiently given you the plot of Ellen Meister's book, I'd like to offer my opinion as to why this is a "must read".

It's so skillfully written the reader feels like he/she intimately knows the characters, who are all extremely likeable for their faults as well as their strengths. In fact, these are people you wish you knew in real life; people you wish were your friends. The dialogue is extremely intelligent -- it's multi-layered with subtle jokes, wit, and sarcasm...and in some cases, pain. The Applewood setting is perfect, down to the descriptions of houses to some of the various stereotypes which somehow Ms. Meister handles with brilliant twists and turns to make them totally her own.

I found myself rooting for everyone in this sparkling debut novel and the author did not disappoint. And yet the ending was far from predictable, Hollywood happy...again, the author deals us a few pleasant and unexpected surprises.

At the risk of using a cliche, this is one of those books which once you pick it up, you can't put it down. For me, it was one of the most enjoyable reads of 2006.

Buy this book! You will not be sorry.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By susan_d on August 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The private lives of three Applewood, Long Island housewives get thrown into turmoil when a production company announces its interest in filming on location at their elementary school.

Although married and with children, the three characters in Meister's book prove that there's still a whole lot of life, longing, determination, and inspriation in these women. They're great moms who love and care for their kids, but they're also individuals with problems and dreams, turmoil and aspirations that reach far beyond their parenting.

Maddie Schein is struggling to find the spark in her marriage, worried that her husband Bruce finds his own cousin more interesting than his wife. Ruth Moss has been taking care of partially paralyzed, impotent, and brain damaged husband for three years and she longs for the spark of passion herself. Lisa Slotnick's spotlight stealing, alcholic mother throws a monkey wrench into her family life when she needs help rehabbing.

These three women comprise the Applewood PTA sub-committee put in charge of acting as a liason with the film company. But they don't just have their hands full with their personal lives. The school project may also be in jeopardy when PTA president Suzanne decides to wrestle the prestigious control of the project away from the three underlings.

Through plenty of laughter and tears, the three very different women bond together quickly, forming deep friendships and sticking together to hopefully conquer all. Will Maddie find bliss with Bruce? Will Ruth get her mojo satisfied? Will Lisa be able to cope with her demanding mother? And most importantly -- will George Clooney be coming to film his movie in Applewood?
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