Primates of Park Avenue

primates-of-park-avenue Dr. Wednesday Martin says she’s studying the rich Upper East Side housewives the way Margaret Mead studied the Samoans. Unfortunately for Dr. Martin, I am NOT convinced on any scale. She comes off more like the odd kid out in a junior high school classroom, pissed off at everyone because she hasn’t been invited to the party. If she said that this was written as a satire, then I’d say it’s great. The real estate broker who deals in high end apartments, dressed head to toe in Chanel and carrying a $500 handbag. As for the apartment hunter, you’d better dress like you have money or nobody will take you seriously.

Fortunately, we do get to see how “the other half lives” in New York. Fancy apartment buildings insist that renovations only be done in the summer, so that the rich residents can escape by going to their country houses. The neighborhood is full of children’s boutiques, stocked with $100 outfits for toddlers. After a while, it sounds a little too much like a cross between Eloise and The Nanny Diaries.

As I mentioned before, Martin’s technique doesn’t work in the end. She’s using her anthropology training to write about rich people, and it’s not an academic treatise. It’s not even on par with a Merchant-Ivory tragedy about the upper classes. There’s nothing dynamic, and from the very beginning she has no reason to want to live among these people. What’s interesting about a woman who doesn’t have to work, doesn’t have to do any childcare, and has a $2000 purse?

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