Review: Motherland by Amy Sohn


Title: Motherland

Author: Amy Sohn

Published: Simon & Schuster August 2012

Synopsis: It’s just before Labor Day and five mothers and fathers in Cape Cod, Park Slope, and Greenwich Village find themselves adrift professionally and personally. Rebecca Rose, whose husband has been acting aloof, is tempted by the attentions of a former celebrity flame; Marco Goldstein, saddled with two kids as his husband Todd goes on a business trip, turns to sex with strangers for comfort; Danny Gottlieb, a screenwriter on the cusp of a big break, leaves his wife and children to pitch a film (and meet young women) in Los Angeles; fallen sanctimommy Karen Bryan Shapiro, devastated by her husband’s infidelity and abandonment, attempts a fresh start with a hot single dad; and former A-List movie star Melora Leigh plots a star turn on Broadway to revive her Hollywood career. As their stories intersect in surprising ways and their deceptions spiral out of control, they begin to question their beliefs about family, happiness, and themselves.

Status: Read from August 13 to 14, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Simon & Schuster/Edelweiss}

My Thoughts:

Motherland is a follow up of sorts to Sohn’s Prospect Park West, with a few of the characters reappearing in this satirical exploration of parenthood and relationships in upper class Brooklyn.

Half a dozen or more narratives intertwine to reveal a cluster of shallow, privileged men and women who parent only when it doesn’t interfere with their latest affair, high or career goals. Actually that is probably a bit unfair, but it’s hard to find sympathy for Sohn’s characters who all want more, despite having so much. With the cushion of money and status, they tend to manufacture their own drama in a search of the elusive holy grail of happiness, but I can’t see any of them ever finding satisfaction.

Amy’s characters are certainly PC enough in terms of of race, ethnicity and orientation. Three of the main characters are married, mostly unhappily with the pressures of parenthood a factor in their misery. Rebecca is hiding the fact that her youngest son is not her husband’s but the result of an affair with a celebrity, Danny Gotlieb is ambivalent about both fatherhood and marriage with his longed for career his priority and Marco resents being a house husband to his wilful adopted son and newborn baby. Karen is newly a single mother after her husband abandoned her for a transvestite escort, divorced Melora’s fondness for her son is easily eclipsed by her desire for fame while it is revealed that the stroller thief refers to her ex husband as The Bastard even more than 18 years after he left.
None of them are particularly likeable though I felt more for the circumstances of some than others.
The children of these characters, mostly young (under 6) are barely present, safely cared for by nannies or private pre schools which seems odd when these parents very rarely do any parenting at all.

Perhaps if I was more familiar with the rarefied world of the Upper East Side I would have enjoyed Motherland more, instead I found I was mainly annoyed with it, especially with the excessive celebrity name dropping. Sohn likes to shock with some salacious sexual encounters, including Marco’s cruising of Grindr, an incestuous hook up and a toe sucking masseuse. Titillating perhaps, but largely ridiculous.

I can’t really fault the writing or much else, it’s just I didn’t  care for the story or characters. While Motherland is not for me, I am sure New Yorkers will enjoy gossiping about the source of the author’s inspiration and celebrity hounds will find plenty to keep them satisfied.

Available to Purchase

@Simon & Schuster I @Amazon I @BookDepository

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting
    Aug 15, 2012 @ 17:15:40

    Darn, what a shame (I was ready to love this book for the cover alone!). I think I’d have the same feelings about this one–richie-poo entitled dolts don’t really do it for me!



    • shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
      Aug 15, 2012 @ 17:23:43

      I think the cover sucked me in as well Stephanie, I should have done my research before i chose it



  2. Trackback: Review: Triburbia by Karl Taro Greenfeld « book'd out

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