The Ivy Chronicles
by Karen Quinn
ISBN 13: 978-0641784095
ISBN 10: 0641784090
Penguin Group USA
We get by with a little help from our friends has never been portrayed with such an ingenious mixture of passion, humor and what could only be defined as sheer female empowerment. Author Karen Quinn takes us inside one woman’s journey from the top, to the bottom and back to the top again.
Ivy Ames…devoted wife and loving mother of two, was living “the good life.” With a combined annual income of two million plus, the Ames’ family had all the luxuries and perks of the social elite. Eight months ago, Ivy’s husband, Cadmon, lost his job and instead of cutting back on expenditures, they continued to revel in the lavish lifestyle they had grown so accustomed too. On a typical, all too hectic morning, Ivy had barely managed to get herself to the bank on-time, when she is caught off guard by a note summoning her to the boss’ office. You could have knocked her over with a feather when she heard him say “human resources has your package, a car will take you home…” The words kind-of-faded into a blur. After a day filled with indignities and humiliation, she longed for the warm, sympathetic embrace of Cad’s arms. But that was not to be…As the smell of orange bubble-bath was wafting through the air, she opened the door to the bathroom, only to find her husband bathing a naked woman. It was Sassy! The wife of the man that had caused her to lose her job! Enraged, embarrassed and deeply hurt she ordered Sassy out of the house, threatening to drop a hair dryer into the bath water if she did not leave immediately. Refusing to let Cad she her cry, she turned and with all the strength she could muster, she gave him his walking orders as well.
It is this one devastating day that lays the foundation for the rest of the novel. With her life in shambles, Ivy embarks on a new career, setting up a business that caters to parents that want their children in the most elite kindergarten programs on earth. A wonderful idea that just needed a boost to get off the ground. Her best friend, Faith, was wealthy and more than willing to help in any way possible. With a few well placed phone calls to her high society acquaintances, Ivy’s referral box began filling up. There’s a host of outlandish, colorful personalities that make up Ivy’s clientele, each adding their own unique flavor to the story. There’s a single father with mob ties; a mixed religion couple; a mom who tries to bribe the board at every school; a gay couple with a wheel-chair bound adopted son; etc. Ivy endures an ongoing cycle of nerve-racked parents having mental-melt-downs during the application process and crazed parents bombarding her with verbal assaults. She quickly discovers these parents do not recognize the morally accepted boundaries of right and wrong…when it comes to securing a slot on the kindergarten-roster of their choosing, anything goes!
Snooty, snobbish, egocentric and over-the-top, Karen Quinn’s novel “The Ivy Chronicles” is a tongue-in-cheek read that delivers exactly what was promised…a light hearted read, filled with quaint characters and quick wit. While criss-crossing moral and ethical boundaries in hopes of being accepted to an elite kindergarten is wrong on so many levels, it it is the catalyst propelling the humorous insanity. Putting the idea of elite, prep-style kinder-care into perspective for these folks would be impossible. But then again so was the concept of downsizing for Ivy, as she continued to carry her Barney’s shopping bag everywhere, hoping to portray that up-town image she missed so desperately.
If you’re looking for a Saturday afternoon read that doesn’t require a lot of thought…that you can just read for the light and fluffy experience…The Ivy Chronicles is a good choice. Fun and seemingly far-fetched, I couldn’t help but wonder with Quinn’s insider knowledge, how far did she stretch the characters, if at all? I am anxious to see what Warner Brothers does with this zany cast of characters, as the book has been optioned and Catherine Zeta-Jones will be starring in the movie!
Wife In the Fast Lane
by Karen Quinn
Touchstone (a division of Simon & Schuster)
ISBN 10: 0743293967
ISBN 13: 978-0743293969
Ever wondered what it would be like to have it all? Of course, we all have…Karen Quinn’s novel, “Wife In the Fast Lane” provides a front row, often harried view of the glamorous life, that to the average person seems far-fetched and outlandish, at best. Quinn invites us to sit back, relax and see the world from the platinum side of the coin for a few hours. Christy Hayes knows the meaning of hard work and dedication, however, winning two Olympic gold medals did not prepare her for the cut-throat world of commerce. As founder and acting CEO of Baby G, an athletic shoe company, Christy needed to reinvent herself to look the part. Following the advice of her best friend and Baby G’s second in command, Katherine, she moves to an apartment, with the “right address,” a new wardrobe and haircut complete the transformation from athlete to successful athletic company owner. Well, superficially anyway…Christy is a beautiful, strong woman, but her lack of education and inexperience force her to rely on Katherine more and more.
Christy joins countless high profile, money makers and trend setters in Davos, Switzerland. Famous for hosting the annual World Economic Forum and global political and business elites, she looks forward to rubbing elbows with and learning the secrets of successful CEO’s. Christy is a fish out of water and finds herself star-struck at every juncture, especially with the gorgeous, media mogul, Michael Drummond. An evening of talk and sipping champagne and it is obvious Christy is in love. This whirlwind marriage creates a corporate power couple that would make others green with envy. Even with help at home from Maria, Christy’s maid and dear friend, she is unable to keep up with the demands of being CEO. So, she unwittingly turns the reigns over to her best friend, which plays right into Katherine’s diabolical plan to oust Christy from Baby G.
When Maria dies unexpectedly, Christy honors her friends’ last wish and adopts her 11 year old granddaughter, Renata. She soon discovers that cut-throat, backstabbing isn’t confined to the executive board room, there’s trouble brewing everywhere… It seems a newspaper reporter wants to have more than her eyes on Michael and the PTA leader of the private school where Christy enrolled Renata is bordering on psychotic.
From the Upper East Side of Manhattan to the luxurious village of St. Tropez, to the resorts of Aspen and Davos, readers will journey to glamorous locales, meet outrageous characters and laugh out loud more than once. Although the central theme is balanced atop a heap of coincidences which may be difficult for some, this is a good read, with light, quick wit, a few shadowy characters to add just enough shadiness to have you cheering for Christy and talking aloud, as you try to warn her of things to come. So, if you’re reading this one on a plane, subway or train don’t be surprised if, from time to time you catch the other passengers looking at you quizzically…You would do the same if the person in the seat next to you was having a conversation with their book.
I recommend “Wife In the Fast Lane” to anyone who enjoys a book that’s simply a lot of fun to read! Quinn’s quiet style and evocative characters delivers a truly distinctive reading experience. With only two novels to her credit readers are in for a real treat as she hones her craft and continues to develop that extra special something that defines a novel as a Karen Quinn original. I am on board for the long ride and anxiously await her next novel!
Excellent Book Club Selection