Although I’ve outgrown my generic chick-lit phase, I’m still a sucker for chick-lit with intelligence, wit and preferably a twist. If that describes you, the Ivy Chronicles is worth a read – it ticks all the boxes, and even better, is based on author Karen Quinn’s real life experiences advising rich families on how to get their precious sons and daughters into the most elite preschools.
Oh yes, and if that’s your kind of thing, it’s also very Jewish (chopped liver features prominently throughout – something I didn’t realise was a traditional Jewish dish. Then again, I don’t know a whole lot about being Jewish, apart from what little I learned in the Bible back in the days.)
Here’s the basic gist: Ivy gets managed out of her corporate banking job, catches her husband cheating on her, moves to a tiny downmarket apartment and moves her daughters into public school. Once she thought she could sink no further – auditioning for a reality TV makeover – her best friend suggests starting up a service to help feckless parents ensure their children get into the best schools that they can. (There’s also a bit of fun along the way as you try to guess which of her two love interests will end up being THE ONE.)
Conversational, smart and wildly unrealistic, it’s pure escapism – and best of all, it doesn’t suffer from poor editing as many other inferior books in the genre do. It’s only the series of unlikely events that drive the plotline that are right out of left field. The amounts of cash being thrown around, on the other hand, are no doubt on the money.
In chapter two, Ivy dismally surveys her expenses and comes up with the conclusion that it’s all “boring but necessary” stuff. The paragraph takes up half a page; highlights include a $120k mortgage, $50k private school fees, $25k to charity, $22k birthday parties, $50k clothes, $12k hair, $74k servants…get the idea?
The scary thing is, I assume New York’s well-heeled actually spend in this kind of fashion! Otherwise, it’s a hilarious look at life for the privileged Manhattan set. Best of all, I didn’t get hung up on financial envy; it’s just part of the parcel, and there’s much, much more to the book than that.