Guest Reviewer: Plum Sykes
Plum Sykes burst onto bookshelves in 2004 with her internationally-acclaimed bestseller Bergdorf Blondes
, a novel in which she spotlighted the lives of New Yorks Park Avenue Princesses. Born in London and educated at Oxford, Sykes is a contributing editor at Vogue
, where she writes on fashion, society, and Hollywood. She has also written for Vanity Fair
magazine. Her latest novel is The Debutante Divorcee
"If you want to see rich people act really rich, go to St. Henrys School for Boys at 3p.m. on any weekday." Or you could just read Holly Petersons debut novel, The Manny
. The first line of this rather delicious story sets us up for what is to come: a satire of money, marriage, men and mannys. ("The Manny" of the title is actually a male nanny, just another parenting trend for Manhattans uber-rich.)
Petersons heroine is Jamie Whitfield, a middle class girl from middle America who, supposedly, married well. She works as a news producer and it is through her that we get an inside peek at Manhattans silly rich. In Petersons well-drawn world, Whitfield and her hotshot lawyer husband, Philip, inhabit a specific area of Manhattans Upper East Side, dubbed The Grid. Although Jamie fell hard for Philip when they were in their twenties, little did she realize she was marrying a man who thinks making a million or so a year means he is poverty-stricken, whose personal vanity knows know bounds and whose preferred reading material is books with titles like How To Raise Children in an Affluent Environment
With the ghastly husband getting more revolting by the second, her son Dylan losing his confidence, and Jamies work going wrong, its not long before Peter Bailey, a thirty year old manny--who also happens to be outrageously sexy--enters the fray. Now, there is nothing more amusing than the posh girl falling for The Help, but upright Jamie holds out--for pages and pages and pages--determined not to cheat on her husband. But when Jamie discovers another Alpha Mom has seduced Peter in her linen closet during a play date, it seems only a matter of time before the inevitable happens.
Peterson has a keen eye for the zeitgeist. She describes the world of the hedge-fund billionaires and their excessive desires with sharp precision and a steely honesty. She takes us to their childrens lavish birthday parties, explores the exact kind of fringing their cushions require and even kindly translates their slang for us: "its wheels up at three" actually means "my private plane takes off at three oclock". Though the detail of such an extreme lifestyle could become suffocating, at its heart the book has a more human crisis to explore--a marriage in jeopardy. The fun comes with the love affair with the Manny. Its Lady Chatterlys Lover
for the beach.
--This text refers to the
From Publishers Weekly
Jamie Whitfield, 36, lives on Park Avenue with her three children and her mostly absent high-powered attorney husband, Phillip, and works part-time as a producer for a prime-time news program. She hires Peter Bailey—29 and biding his time until he get funding for his software business—to plug the household's gaps and be a father figure to nine-year-old Dylan. The two, of course, are attracted to each other, and when Peter's money comes through, he doesn't tell Jamie. Phillip's temper tantrums when lacking pulpless orange juice or a wooden-handled umbrella are surprisingly funny, and a subplot where Jamie chases a trashy but potentially career-making story is strong. Jamie's co-workers are more realistically portrayed than her shallow friends, but even Jamie's children come alive when they root for mom's success. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
--This text refers to the