Congratulations! You’ve been invited to take an inside look at the most exclusive preschool in Manhattan.
Two families figure prominently in the whispered gossip
hissing among the mothers at St. Timothy’s: the Skinkers, Jed and Philippa, he
the scion of the last family-owned investment bank in New York, she beautiful,
detached, often drunk; and the Curtises, John and Minnie, a new family with
shiny new money. On the other hand, no one can ever remember the Hogans’
names—Dan is an assistant district attorney, i.e. a working stiff, and Gwen
stays home with their daughter, Mary. But Gwen was friends with Philippa’s
sister back home in small-town Massachusetts, which gives the two an odd
affinity for each other—which might help or might hurt when Jed Skinker and John Curtis become the focus of an investigation at the DA’s office, led by Dan Hogan. Macy (Spoiled, 2009, etc.) knows just how to nail the status
anxieties of the rich; her people are ultraprivileged but insecure, constantly comparing themselves against each other. Minnie, the new mother, doesn't quite fit in with the other St. Timothy's women at the all-important morning drop-off: "Despite the fact that points in this town had long ago ceased being given for grooming or comportment, Minnie Curtis' hair was blown out and styled, her clothes smart and expensively tailored, rather than expensively draped and drawstringed. Was that an actual matching skirt and jacket she was wearing—a suit?" The horror! The perspective rotates among Philippa, Minnie, and Gwen as well as their husbands, Philippa's 7-year-old daughter, Laura, and a group of other mothers who form a kind of Greek chorus reminiscent of Big Little Lies. It's all very stylized and entertaining, and if the characters never spring fully to life inside their expensively casual outfits and two-story entrance halls, that feels almost beside the point.
Reading this sharply observed novel about New York's wealthier denizens is doubtless more enjoyable than it would be to actually join their crowd.