It can seem as though the world these days is measured in Big Little Lies moments. The first season premiere, the first season finale, the agonizing wait for news of a second season, the Emmy wins, the Golden Globe wins, the second season announcement, the agonizing wait until television audiences are treated to 50 minutes of Meryl Streep every week.
But this structure, while wholly natural given the deliciousness of the lives of the mothers of Monterey and the gravitational pull of one Reese Witherspoon, ignores a very important fact: that Big Little Lies started out as a book. And not only that, but there are other ways, literature-wise, to satisfy the taste for rich-people drama. There are, of course, the full collection of Liane Moriarty books, several of which will be coming to a screen near you courtesy of Ms. Witherspoon. But for this month’s express purpose, we look to the brand-new tome Mrs., out Tuesday.
The novel, written by Caitlin Macy, a New York City-based author who has penned several books about the mind-boggling machinations of the upper classes, is the latest in a genre we’ll call Playground Chic. It follows the parents at St. Timothy’s, an exclusive elementary school on the Upper East Side that seems to attract a delightful mix of hilariously overbred finance snobs and seemingly fancy folk with dark pasts. Each chapter is devoted to a different member of the St. Tim’s community: a few stay-at-home mothers, a few long-suffering fathers, and one very precocious child caught in the middle of everything.
This may sound like a collection of Manhattan stereotypes, but fear not, as there are unexpected turns of character that keep the main players from falling into the expected categories (no spoilers here!). It may also sound like a rinse-and-repeat of Big Little Lies, but there are some marked differences. There is no central crime here, no highly dramatized murder to be solved, but instead the reader will slowly realize that many of these pedigreed Upper East Siders have some very valuable secrets. There are similarities, of course, like the not-so-coincidental interconnectedness of all the parents and some highly entertaining brats. If you found yourself paging through Lies with a fervor, you’ll likely do the same with Mrs.
Each and every one of BLL’s readers (or viewers) found themselves squarely on the side of one or the other characters (Team Renata!), and it’s easy to draw comparisons to the women (and men) you’ll love (and hate) at St. Tim’s.