Mrs. (Macy)

Caitlin Macy, 2018
Little, Brown and Co.
352 pp.

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 conform 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, a heavy-drinking, obsessive prosecutor in the US Attorney's Office, stumbles over 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.

Macy has written a modern-day House of Mirth, not for the age 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. marries razor-sharp social critique and page-turning propulsion into an unforgettable tapestry of the way we live in the 21st Century. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Caitlin Macy is the author of The Fundamentals of Play (2000), Spoiled: Stories (2009), and Mrs. (2018). A graduate of Yale, she received her MFA from Columbia. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The York Times Magazine, Oprah Magazine and Slate, among other publications. he lives in New York City with her husband and two children. (From the publishers.)

Book Reviews
[A] solid read, more entertaining than enlightening. But there is something missing. Gwen’s middle-class background… judgments and perceptions provide an entry point for the reader. But… she is not relatable. Or perhaps it is the… Greek chorus… [whose observations] come so infrequently that they prove superfluous. What Mrs. does best is prove that class is mostly a state of mind, that the power of the rich derives from what we bestow on them, not from some innate birthright. 
USA Today

Macy skewers power parents in this entertaining, sharp-eyed portrayal of privilege and it's price

Inside a seductive microuniverse, the super competitive lives of three very different women intersect at the exclusive preschool their children attend. When one woman's husband, a U.S. attorney, launches an investigation into the financial dealings of another's, shocking secrets threaten to disrupt their lives in this smart skewering of high society.
Marie Claire

Mrs. could be the next Big Little Lies.
Entertainment Weekly

[T]he gossipy lives of well-off parents in New York.… [A] fresh take on the society novel.… The attention to behavioral detail… is piercing and honest. Ultimately, a thesis emerges about the simplicity and selfishness of human nature.
Publishers Weekly

Macy knows just how to nail the status anxieties of the rich; her people are ultraprivileged but insecure.… Reading this sharply observed novel about New York's wealthier denizens is doubtless more enjoyable than it would be to actually join their crowd.
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. The last line of Kirkus Reviews coverage of Caitlin Macy's Mrs. (see "Book Reviews" above) says, "Reading this sharply observed novel about New York's wealthier denizens is doubtless more enjoyable than it would be to actually join their crowd." What do think? Would you take the chance ... or give them all a wide berth.

2. Talk about the three women characters at the heart of the novel: Philippa, Gwen, and Minnie. Describe their differences from one another in terms of personality, social standing, backgrounds, and interests. Do you identify, or at least sympathize with any one in particular? If so, who and why? Or if none, why so?

3. Why the book's title Mrs—and why, other than Philippa, are the women referred to as "Mrs"?

4. From outside of this exclusive coterie of women, each appears to be seamlessly integrated into the same class. On closer examination, though, all is not right. There seems to be a fair amount of class consciousness. What aggravates the group's cohesiveness? What are the class distinctions within the class?

5. Discuss the three marriages. Do any strain credulity?

6. In the novel, how does class affect parenting?

7. Talk about how the author skewers the wealthy: the way they talk about their vacations, the food they feed (or don't feed) their children, the nannies, the clothes—their overall sense of entitlement.

8. Reviewers have pointed to the array of minor characters who serve as a modern-day Greek Chorus, observing and commenting (through chatter and gossip) on the action and personalities. What do we learn from them?

9. Does the social milieu of St.Timothy moms remind you of … say, high school?

10. Has this novel left you admiring the ultra-wealthy for their hard work, intelligence, and ambition? How about envying them?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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