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Primates of Park Avenue
Cover of Primates of Park Avenue
Primates of Park Avenue
A Memoir
Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller!

The book that has outraged the social elite!

“Eye-popping” —People

“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.
Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller!

The book that has outraged the social elite!

“Eye-popping” —People

“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.
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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Wednesday Martin, PhD, has worked as writer and social researcher in New York City for more than two decades. The author of Stepmonster and Primates of Park Avenue, she has appeared on Today, CNN, NPR, NBC News, the BBC Newshour, and Fox News as an expert on step-parenting and parenting issues. She writes for the online edition of Psychology Today and her work has appeared in The New York Times. She was a regular contributor to New York Post’s parenting and lifestyle pages for several years and has written for The Daily Telegraph. Wednesday received her PhD from Yale University and lives in New York City with her husband and their two sons.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 20, 2015
    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.

  • Library Journal

    June 1, 2015

    Martin and her husband are moving from downtown to the Upper East Side of Manhattan in search of a more kid-friendly atmosphere for their son. The neighborhood's excellent schools, proximity to Central Park, and abundance of strollers make it the obvious choice for a small family not ready to leave the island. After their move, however, Martin starts to observe some of the same dominant/submissive behaviors, mating rituals, and rites of passage that she witnessed while studying primatology at Yale University. A Jane Goodall wielding an American Express Black Card, the author leads readers through the hierarchical benchmarks of Upper East Side mothers. VERDICT This anthropological journey into the wilds of New York City's most exclusive zip code could have easily devolved into condescension, but instead it proves that mothers everywhere want the same thing: health and happiness for their progeny. [See Memoir, 4/15/15; ow.ly/MBDf6.]--ES

    Copyright 2015 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A Memoir
Wednesday Martin
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