Class Mothers by Katherine Stewart
Class Mothers open roughly 3 years after The Yoga Mamas ends. Laura’s daughter, Anna, is now enrolled as the scholarship student at The Metropolitan Preschool. In keeping with the times, this preschool is impossible to get into and the moms are all very competitive. Money is thrown around. Influence is thrown around. It feels like any number of fish-out-of-water books until a twist is thrown in: during an afternoon auction committee meeting the class hamster is found murdered. Four mothers are on the committee, four children were in the classroom with the teacher and no one saw who did it.
Instantly the mothers - not in view of the schools owner-principal, of course - start to draw lines and form alliances to make sure that their own child’s position at the school is safe. Laura, as the lone scholarship mom, finds herself in an odd place - some of the moms like her, but mostly she finds herself outside of their circles...a feeling that is compounded by her own insecurities. She fuels her inner Greek Chorus by giving weight to the pointed looks, paranoia, and standards of women she didn’t even know until her daughter started at their school.
In what she justifies as an effort to keep Anna in her exclusive pre-school and help her move up to an even more exclusive elementary school, Laura teams up with two of the other moms on the auction committee: Bronwyn, a seemingly perfect Manhattan Housewife and mother of two who treats Laura as equal parts friend and charity case, and Dominique, a French ex-model/actress who spends ninety percent of her time bemoaning the lack of passion and excitement in her life, despite having a devoted and doting husband and a lovely young daughter. All three are convinced that Kim’s son is the culprit based almost purely on Kim’s own behavior (as a working mom she feels that battle,) snide comments regarding Laura’s “disadvantaged” state, and nanny gossip.
The plot follows through parties, auction meetings, tailing Kim, yoga classes, lunches, dinners, even more tangled up backstabbing and ladder climbing, all the way up to when - somewhat predictably - Laura feels like her life is spinning out of control. Her daughter is pushing boundaries, her husband’s college girlfriend turns out to be one of the other preschool moms, and her contract deadline has come and gone with no inspiration in sight. Add to that the unravelling trust and friendship she had with Bronwyn and Dominique and it almost seems hopeless.
It’s not, of course. There’s the requisite epiphany followed by a flurry of activity and a satisfying resolution. Because we meet Laura first in The Yoga Mamas, her behavior follows what we already know to be true to her character and the other moms fall into their own cliches nicely.
All-in-all, it’s a satisfying chick read. It wouldn’t be out of place on the beach. My only issue is at the end, after the murder has been solved (as well as the auction drama) and everyone is happy...Stewart jumps the shark. Seriously. She has set up for another Laura book, but not of the Poor Fish in a Ritzy Pond style that we’ve already become familiar with. It could be great. It could prove to not be worth the paper it’s printed on. Either way, we’ll have to wait, because it doesn’t seem to be releasing any time soon.