Mar 22, 2016

Books about Fancy Rich New Yorkers

AKA one of my favorite kind of books.

First up, I finally got around to reading Primates of Park Avenue.

It was weak.  I had enjoyed reading about the scandal it provoked when published.  However, the pseudo-scientific premise really annoyed me.  Either make it a true anthropological study and include some footnotes/sources or make it a full on memoir.  Also, the references to various tribes and cultures were often highly contradictory.  The author's agenda seemed very transparent- to ridicule and exaggerate the society of which she is a part.  Yet, she seemed to be unapologetically fully immersed and into said society.  I mean, there was a ridiculous amount of time spent on her pursuit of a Birkin bag.  The whole thing was cliched and unnecessary (yet diverting for an afternoon).

Far more enjoyable was Opening Belle, based on the author's experience as a Wall Street banker.  It was well-written and fast paced.  Chick-lit with a focus on business rather than boys, it kept me engaged until the satisfying end.

A little bit more serious than the previous two is The Swans of Fifth Avenue.  I have loved tales of Truman Capote's "swans" ever since reading Katherine Graham's memoir, and its depiction of his famous Black and White Ball.  Swans is a bit depressing, but seems quite an accurate depiction of these beautiful and privileged women's lives.  And it makes me want to be CZ Guest.

You'll want to have your phone or computer handy while reading it, as I was constantly Googling images of these women, their husbands, and Truman himself.  It's a fascinating portrait of Babe Paley, Capote, and the late 50's-early 1970's.

I read Swans and Primates simultaneously, and it was very interesting to see how little has changed for the Upper East Side in the last 60 years.


  1. Score! Matt says I only read books about rich New Yorkers or poor girls in London trying to make it in the fashion world. He is pretty accurate...

  2. I love your book reviews! Can't wait.

  3. I will definitely have to check out Opening Belle and The Swans of Fifth Avenue!

  4. Just put Opening Belle on hold at the library (waiting for more room in my hold queue to open up in order to add The Swans of Fifth Ave). I always enjoy your book recommendations!

  5. I read the primates book and agree the scientific talk got too much!


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