Thank you to the lovely people at Little Brown for my copy of Mrs. by Caitlin Macy. All thoughts and images are my own.
Synopsis: (as told by the back of the book)
In the well-heeled milieu of New York’s Upper East Side, coolly elegant Philippa Lye is the woman no one can stop talking about. Despite a shadowy past, Philippa has somehow married the scion of the last family-held investment bank in the city. And although her wealth and connections put her in the center of this world, she refuses to confirm to its gossip-fueled culture.
Then, into her precariously balanced life come two women: Gwen Hogan, a childhood acquaintance who uncovers an explosive secret about Philippa’s single days, and Minnie Curtis, a newcomer whose vast fortune and frank revelations about a penurious upbringing in Spanish Harlem put everyone on alert.
When Gwen’s husband, an obsessive, heavy-drinking prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, stumbles onto the connection between Philippa’s past and the criminal investigation he is pursuing at all costs, this insulated society is forced to confront the rot at its core and the price it has paid to survive into the new millennium.
Caitlin Macy has written a modern-day, House of Mirth, for the age not of railroads and steel but of hedge funds and overnight fortunes, of scorched-earth successes and abiding moral failures. A brilliant portrait of love, betrayal, fate, and chance, Mrs. weaves razor-sharp social critique and page-turning propulsion into an unforgettable tapestry of the way we live in the twenty-first century.
I initially was interested in this book for its subject matter: House of Mirth meets Gossip Girl? Count me in. I went through a serious obsession with both Wharton’s writing and the trashy novels and subsequent TV show in high school. Something about the glitz and the glamour of the Upper East Side held my 16-year-old interest like nothing else.
This aesthetic was what brought me in, but Macy’s writing style is what held me. Not only is the rate at which she feeds the reader information about the multiple scandals perpetrated by this group perfectly tantalizing, but the way she plays with voice is also fascinating. Most (but not all) chapters are written in third person, but there is no one true narrator. Macy allows herself to float easily from one perspective to the next. No chapter sounds exactly like the chapter that came before it. My favorite chapters were those that were influenced by the thoughts of Philippa’s oldest daughter, but I enjoyed any chapter whose narration was out of the bounds of what I expected.
If you like stories of wealth, corruption, New York City, and imperfect friendships, this book is highly enjoyable. It won’t be my favorite read of the year (or even of the month), but it is one that I am glad I read.
Interested in this book? Click here to buy it on Amazon or find it at your local independent bookstore.