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That's What Frenemies Are For
Cover of That's What Frenemies Are For
That's What Frenemies Are For
A Novel
In this razor-sharp novel for fans of When Life Gives You Lululemons, a Manhattan socialite turns her spin instructor into a fitness superstar to impress her friends. But can she keep her little project under control? Or has she created a monster?
Julia Summers seems to have it all: a sprawling Upper East Side apartment, a successful husband, and two adorable children attending the best private school in the city. She relishes wielding influence over her well-heeled girlfriends . . . but her star appears to be fading. That's why, when stranded in Manhattan for the summer as her crowd flees to the Hamptons, Julia is on the hunt for the next big thing that will make her the envy of her friends and put her back on top.
Enter Flame, the new boutique gym in her neighborhood. Seductive and transformative, Flame's spin classes are exactly what Julia needs—and demure, naïve instructor Tatum is her ticket in. But rebranding Tatum as a trendy guru proves hard work, and Julia's triumphant comeback at summer's end doesn't quite go as planned. Tatum begins to grasp just how much power her newfound stardom holds, and when things suddenly get ugly, Julia realizes she's in way over her head.
Julia's life is already spiraling out of control when her husband is arrested for fraud and bribery. As her so-called friends turn their backs on her, and Tatum pursues her own agenda, Julia is forced to rethink everything she knew about her world to reclaim her perfect life. But does she even want it back? Witty and incisive, Sophie Littlefield and Lauren Gershell's That's What Frenemies Are For provides an engrossing glimpse into the cutthroat moms' club of the Upper East Side.
In this razor-sharp novel for fans of When Life Gives You Lululemons, a Manhattan socialite turns her spin instructor into a fitness superstar to impress her friends. But can she keep her little project under control? Or has she created a monster?
Julia Summers seems to have it all: a sprawling Upper East Side apartment, a successful husband, and two adorable children attending the best private school in the city. She relishes wielding influence over her well-heeled girlfriends . . . but her star appears to be fading. That's why, when stranded in Manhattan for the summer as her crowd flees to the Hamptons, Julia is on the hunt for the next big thing that will make her the envy of her friends and put her back on top.
Enter Flame, the new boutique gym in her neighborhood. Seductive and transformative, Flame's spin classes are exactly what Julia needs—and demure, naïve instructor Tatum is her ticket in. But rebranding Tatum as a trendy guru proves hard work, and Julia's triumphant comeback at summer's end doesn't quite go as planned. Tatum begins to grasp just how much power her newfound stardom holds, and when things suddenly get ugly, Julia realizes she's in way over her head.
Julia's life is already spiraling out of control when her husband is arrested for fraud and bribery. As her so-called friends turn their backs on her, and Tatum pursues her own agenda, Julia is forced to rethink everything she knew about her world to reclaim her perfect life. But does she even want it back? Witty and incisive, Sophie Littlefield and Lauren Gershell's That's What Frenemies Are For provides an engrossing glimpse into the cutthroat moms' club of the Upper East Side.
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Excerpts-
  • From the book Chapter 1

    There is a particular species of shrew that injects a dose of anesthetizing venom into its prey so it can feed at leisure while the victim is still alive. Maybe it's a kindness; more likely it's just nature's inclination to keep you still and compliant as disaster strikes. You only realize you're f***ed when it's too late.

    Think about it: markets crash when investors are feeling fat and happy. Spouses leave when their jilted partners are convinced things are finally on the right track again. And when it's your turn, there's nothing you can do. You're the mouse. That short-­tailed shrew bearing down on you with an oily grin? That's that old familiar bastard, fate.

    In my case, the early months of the new year passed in not-­unpleasant monotony, our household bobbing along in the privileged waters of the Upper East Side. My husband worked hard and made a lot of money. I was a stay-­at-­home mom of two young children, a pampered wife with a busy social calendar, a sought-­after friend with a reputation for the mildly outrageous.

    At least, I had been for a time, when everything I touched turned—­if not into gold, at least into Instagram posts with hundreds of likes and invitations to every party worth going to and the fawning admiration of those on the fringes of my circle.

    Dear reader, allow me to give you a little preview of my story: I had it all, once, but I let it slip away. I'd been a golden girl all my life: rich, spoiled, attractive, confident, with a talent for cultivating envy. But as I reached the mid-­point of my thirties, I grew sloppy or lazy or distracted—­it's hard to remember exactly why I stopped trying—­and I lost my luster. People noticed; they drifted away. When I realized how far my star had fallen, I became desperate to fight my way back. Naïvely, I thought it couldn't get any worse than to be irrelevant.

    I lost my way. And then I lost my nerve. And then I made a mistake.

    It was a chilly evening in May, and James and I were attending our daughter's lower school play at the exclusive Graylon Academy on the Upper East Side of New York City, where our children would soon be finishing kindergarten and second grade. James had been working around the clock on a new deal, a former nursing home in Chelsea that his firm was turning into luxury condos, and I'd ordered him to take a night off and come to the performance. You don't show up to such an event without your husband unless you wish to answer for it all night. Managing our husbands is one of the skills on which we judge each other.

    I had asked our nanny to stay late and watch Henry, our younger child. I'd already dropped Paige off at the school to get ready for the play, in which she had a minor role as a mushroom. The play was a morality tale about inclusivity, as far as I could tell, told through vegetables.

    Benilda's contract was for 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. each weekday plus additional hours "as needed," for which we paid her extra. James had asked me several times why we couldn't cut back on her hours now that both Henry and Paige were in school. James didn't grow up here—­he's from Allentown—­and he could be insensitive to the fact that certain things simply weren't done. Our compromise was to ask Benilda to take on the housekeeping and laundry, which allowed us to let our twice-­a-­week housekeeper go.

    At work, James had no problem managing a staff of eleven. But Benilda—­with her thick black bob cut precisely jaw length, her acid-­washed jeans, the rapid-­fire conversations she had on the phone in Tagalog with her...
About the Author-
  • Sophie Littlefield is the author of more than twenty bestselling adult and YA novels. She is the recipient of the Anthony Award and the RT Book Reviews Reviewers' Choice Award. She has been shortlisted for the Edgar, Macavity, Barry, and Crimespree Awards. The New York Times has called her "a regular writing machine."
    Lauren Gershell was born and raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where she now lives with her family. She holds an A.B. and law degree from Columbia University. That's What Frenemies Are For is her first novel.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 27, 2019
    Littlefield (House of Glass) teams up with debut novelist Gershell in this witty glimpse into the lives of the very wealthy residents of Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Julia Summers lives a life of luxury as wife to real estate developer James and mother of Henry and Paige, who attend the exclusive Graylon Academy. When pipes burst in the family’s Hamptons summer home, the repairs for which will take the entire summer, she is forced to stay in the City for the season. Julia tries out new fitness club Flame and mentors personal trainer Tatum by helping her develop her own style and gain clients. As Tatum gets Julia into shape, Julia lets Tatum live at her apartment for a while. But Julia soon suspects that Tatum may have stolen from her and told lies about Julia to her friends. As Julia’s friends become more distant and James is arrested and charged with bribery, Julia becomes the immediate target of gossip and soon discovers who her true friends are. The authors keep the plot moving at a quick pace, and it’s fascinating to follow the two-sided personalities of her characters—superficially friendly but backstabbing when the opportunity arises. This entertaining page-turner is delicious, biting fun.

  • Kirkus

    June 1, 2019
    A New York City socialite tries to impress her friends by making over a spin instructor into a weight-loss and mind-body-connection guru. In Littlefield (The Guilty One, 2015, etc.) and first-time author Gershell's debut novel as a pair, Julia Summers loves her husband, James, and her two children, Henry and Paige. But, to be honest, Julia really loves herself most of all. She's a vapid, vain, Upper East Side stay-at-home mom, and everything she does is carefully calculated to impress the fellow moms, her so-called friends, at her kids' private school. But she has become complacent, and her influence as a trendsetter has weakened. When a long-unnoticed leak ruins the Summers' vacation home in the Hamptons and Julia is forced--forced--to spend the summer in the city with her children while her husband works around the clock and her friends relax in their own country homes, she does the only thing she can think of: foists the kids off on summer camp, the nanny, and a backup babysitter so she can focus on losing weight and regaining her social cachet. She makes it her summer project to re-create Tatum, a bubbly instructor at Flame, a boutique gym that has not yet become popular with the rich-mom crowd. "That was my catnip," Julia says. "I was an urban bloodhound trawling for treasures that went unnoticed by others, and I was famous for my finds." But Tatum is not so easily controlled. She dates who she wants, she makes friends with whom she wants, and she makes the same bad decisions that 20-somethings everywhere have made and will continue make. The novel focuses solely on Julia's story, told in the first person, and the other characters and events appear flattened and one-dimensional through the prism of her opinions. There are no heroines in this tale: It's a predictable, slow-moving train wreck you can't look away from.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    July 1, 2019

    Julia Summers has a $5 million apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side, and a husband raking in the dough to support their two children and the nanny who cares for them. Her biggest worry is when her next coffee date with her best friends will be. However, when the family's summer trip to their Hamptons house is canceled, she's left stranded in Manhattan while her entire social circle flees the city. Needing a project, she cashes in on an auction basket that she won to a new cycling gym called Flame. There she meets Tatum, a young, fresh-faced fitness instructor, who turns into Julia's pet project, and then some. Multigenre novelist Littlefield ("Aftertime" series; The Guilty One; Garden of Stones) and newcomer Gershell come in hot with this look at the cutthroat world of Manhattan's social elite. Readers will love watching Julia groom Tatum into a fitness star; from discarding her Target leggings to treating her to keratin treatments and gel manicures, no stone is left unturned in the makeover process. VERDICT An excellent choice for fans of Lauren Weisberger.--Erin Holt, Williamson Cty. P.L., Franklin, TN

    Copyright 2019 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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A Novel
Sophie Littlefield
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