Last month, social researcher Wednesday Martin became the Amy Sohn of 2015, turning her first-hand experiences living in a ritzy, alien NYC culture (instead of Sohn's Park Slope, Martin had the Upper East Side) into a best-selling book. While Sohn always couched her observations in fiction, Martin posited herself as an amateur anthropologist—she was Jane Goodall in the urban jungle (just substitute boots for Louboutins) in her new book, Primates of Park Avenue. Unfortunately, it seems that she may have taken a lot of fictional liberties with her memoir of wife bonuses and aggressive parenting.
— Wednesday Martin (@WednesdayMartin) November 22, 2013
The NY Post, who have published at least four articles about the book (the Times has published five!), has a damning report today pointing out several possible fabrications, exaggerations and lies in the book. They write:
Author Wednesday Martin — whose real first name is Wendy — claims in the memoir to have spent six years “doing field work” with her two kids on the Upper East Side conducting an armchair anthropological study.
But Martin only lived there for three years, with one kid, and mentions stores and services that didn’t exist, calling into question the scenes and behaviors she describes.
Among the most glaring errors:
- Martin’s first son was born in 2001 and her second was born in 2007, the year she moved from the Upper East Side to the Upper West Side. Martin talks about raising two boys on the UES throughout the book.
- She writes that she attended exercise classes at Physique 57 to lose her baby weight after her second son’s birth. The Post claims that gym did not exist when she claims to have exercised there.
- There are references to other places and services (such as macaroon shop Ladurée and Uber) that didn't exist during the period she was living on the UES.
Martin admitted to the Post that she "telescoped certain parts of the narrative in order to protect the privacy of friends, neighbors, associates and family." In an interview with New York Magazine, she also backed off her assurances that "wife bonuses"—the most salacious part of the book—are as widespread as she made them out to be: "I don’t necessarily think it’s a trend or widespread. It was just one of the many strange-seeming cultural practices that some women told me about."
There's been some proof that there are women (who may or may not live on the UES) who receive something akin to a wife bonus. But many other Upper East Side natives have buckled against the characterizations: "It seems almost like a caricature," organizer and philanthropist Adelina Wong Ettelson told Vanity Fair. "She brings it to the highest level that I’m sure makes it a very amusing read—but how can you call it research? Is this really indicative of all of the Upper East Side?"