Elevate Difference

Prospect Park West

Brooklyn’s famously high-end and yuppie Park Slope neighborhood is nearly a character itself in Amy Sohn’s Prospect Park West. The book follows the lives of four women living in the neighborhood. There is Melora Leigh, a troubled actress, who joins the neighborhood co-op for good PR. Her time there ties her to Karen Shapiro, an overly protective mother and social climber desperate for a new apartment in the best school district. Lizzie O’Donnell is a “former lesbian” living with her husband and child, but still drawn to women. Her attention focuses on Rebecca Rose, another mom, who hasn’t been touched by her husband in the year and a half since she gave birth.

The book seems aimed at subtly making fun and illuminating the foibles of stereotypical yuppie mothers as well as the new hipster mother. It’s like a filled out gossip column or blog on the lives of overly privileged women. The struggles of being a mother are mentioned, but it is incidental to the women’s sex lives and neuroses. The stories weave together fairly well, though the plot line that connects Karen and Melora seems overly fanciful. At times, I found myself forgetting the connections between the characters and having to flip back to figure out who was being discussed.

Occasionally throughout the text are small chapters written in italics and from the perspective of a few of the male characters in the book. They don’t seem to add much to the book, as they don’t flesh out the male characters enough.

The book ends a bit anti-climactically. I didn’t feel let-down, but more "oh, now it’s done." I suppose Prospect Park West is simply giving a snapshot (in this case a 400 page snapshot) of the women’s lives. There is no grand climax in the action, because the women’s lives simply carry on, much like in real life.

For fans of chick lit and lighter fare, pick this book up. Otherwise, you can give it a miss.

Written by: Kristin Conard, November 16th 2009

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