Top critical review
Three women solve a first world problem
15 March 2019
You kind of know what to expect from the author of The Devil Wears Prada, and in that sense this book doesn’t disappoint. In this one, former Polish supermodel Karolina is married to a junior Democrat senator and the happy stepmother of 12 yo Harry until one day when - driving Harry’s friends home - she’s stopped by police, arrested and thrown in the slammer overnight for drunk driving. But she wasn’t drunk. The whole thing was a setup and the question is why and how. Enter her longtime friend Miriam, who after a successful NY legal career lives in the suburbs being a mum, which takes more than a small amount of adjustment. Enter 2) Emily, a friend of Miriam’s. Emily is a great character: sassy, bitchy, very upfront. She’s one of those people who handle the image of showbizz types, and is determinedly childless, whereas Karolina has been having IVF for years without success.
Karolina’s husband, far from being supportive, seems keen to distance himself from his wife, so naturally Emily and Miriam step in to buoy her up, rescue her reputation and sleuth their way to a satisfactory conclusion. Emily decrees that Karolina’s best course of action is to take the accusations of alcoholism on the chin and disappear for a while, hinting at rehab. Given the irregularities surrounding the arrest, this seems a weak plot point. Given the wealth and power available, surely it would have made better sense to uncover the police corruption and who organised it? This does eventually happen. Anyhoo ... we get a portrait of wealthy suburban folks where the women are super glamorous thanks to lots of surgery and have to be constantly on the lookout for cheating husbands, where birthday parties for five year olds are completely over the top extravaganzas that would feed a small country and where no expense (or drugs) are spared on neighbourhood parties. While we might get a frisson from these insights into the lives and accoutrements of the shallowly wealthy, you have to wonder what strange planet this is. While formerly middle class Syrians are escaping their war torn country in rubber boats, there are doctors busily stitching vaginas to suit the dimensions of a husbandly penis.
While Karolina’s husband is painted all black, the husbands of Miriam and Emily (whose work is never delineated) are painted loyal and caring in a way that makes them unreal. The scary Miranda Priestly makes an entrance and is instrumental in seeing the senator get his comeuppance. It’s a feisty, fun, voyeuristic read if you can overlook a certain thinness in characterisation and plot and if nothing else, will make you glad you’re not one of those people.