Elements of Style by Wendy Wasserstein
Reasons for reading: had been on my TBR list for ages; New York book for Triple 8 Challenge
Book description: Francesca Weissman, an Upper East Side pediatrician rated number one by Manhattan magazine, floats on the fringes of the upper strata of privilege and aspiration. Through her bemused eyes we meet the thoroughbred socialite Samantha Acton; relentless social climber Judy Tremont; Barry Santorini, an Oscar-winning moviemaker accustomed to having his way; his supermarket heiress wife, Clarice; and more, tossed together in a frothy stew of outrageous conspicuous consumption and adulterous affairs that play out on Page Six.
The Washington Post's review included this: "If we don't feel sympathy for the majority of Wasserstein's characters, their creator would undoubtedly would have said, "Good. You weren't supposed to." " Well, I surely didn't. Even Frankie, the "good" character seems, at heart, very sad and a bit pathetic. The other reviews I skimmed through talked about it being hilarious and satirical, but it just wasn't there for me. There were a few funny, satirical moments, but everyone was so hateful it was hard to be anything but just disgusted by their behaviour.
And the worst part of it for me was what I saw as a complete lack of brightness for the future. Almost every character had died, gotten divorced, or suffered another tragedy by the end and things didn't seem poised to get any better. The only ones who seemed likely to go back to their lives unscathed were still shallow, self-centred, and basically cruel people. Wasserstein tried for a note of hope on the last page with an ill baby being released from the NICU (didn't have anything to do with the rest of the story, so I'm not giving anything away), but it wasn't enough.