This humor book about “money, motherhood, and manners in the nation’s capital” describes 11 months – August through June, plus an epilogue with July – in the life of two women living in an upscale Washington, D.C. community called The Village. Told mostly through bogus articles and photographs from a monthly bulletin called “Village Whiner” and text messages, emails and notes between the women (Phoebe and Crystal), the book contains a few ongoing stories about children, husbands, neighbors, and a dead cat, plus the views of monthly newsletter columnists. Additional random and seasonal elements highlight each chapter.
The meandering storyline follows the budding friendship of Phoebe and new resident, Crystal, as she becomes acclimated to the quirks of the community. These quirks include Miss Gertrude’s manners classes, a Village Diversity Group that isn’t as open-minded as the name would indicate, hypocritical Vira Bliss and her “Rich Simplicity” tips for living a spiritual life amidst wealth, and an unidentified odor wafting through the community.
The back cover copy describes the book as a “hilarious creation” in which the authors “gleefully skewer the privileged and powerful.” While gleeful skewering occurs, “hilarious” significantly overstates the humor, much of which is repetitious and snarky wordplay, such as email addresses serving as punchlines: “firstname.lastname@example.org,” “email@example.com,” “ishopforsnobs.com,” “firstname.lastname@example.org, and so forth. Phoebe’s husband works on a “Pneumatic-Nano Injection System (or P-NIS for short),” mentioned several times.
At 457 pages, this work is needlessly lengthy and repetitious. Best-selling comedy writers, including Paul Reiser (Couplehood), Jerry Seinfeld (Seinlanguage), and Nora Ephron (Heartburn), keep their humor books under 300 pages in order to sustain the comedic momentum. In addition to editing for errors and to avoid duplication, this book would benefit from an introduction informing readers of the purpose and structure.
Although some of the humorous material may appeal to general audiences, readers in the specific region being skewered should have the greatest appreciation for this multi-media look at modern life.