Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA

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Overview

When a Hollywood location scout comes to Applewood, Long Island, and announces that the local elementary school might make the perfect backdrop for an upcoming George Clooney movie, the PTA's decorum crumbles like a cookie from last week's bake sale.

Enter Maddie, Ruth, and Lisa, three women who become the glue that holds the project together, forging a bond of friendship stronger than anyone could imagine. And not a moment too soon, as marriage woes, old flames, and ...

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Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA

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Overview

When a Hollywood location scout comes to Applewood, Long Island, and announces that the local elementary school might make the perfect backdrop for an upcoming George Clooney movie, the PTA's decorum crumbles like a cookie from last week's bake sale.

Enter Maddie, Ruth, and Lisa, three women who become the glue that holds the project together, forging a bond of friendship stronger than anyone could imagine. And not a moment too soon, as marriage woes, old flames, and scandalously embarrassing family members threaten to tear each of them apart. Is their powerful alliance strong enough to overcome the obstacles to getting the movie made in their town? And will their friendship be enough to mend their hearts and homes? Join them as they reach for the stars . . . and try to pull off a Hollywood ending of their own.

At once tender and hilarious, Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA is a captivating story that turns suburbia upside down . . . with more humor, heartache, and heat than one PTA can hold.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Kudrow shows her deft comedic skills in her audiobook debut about the machinations and scandals of rival PTA factions in a small town whose school may be used for a George Clooney movie. Kudrow reads with a light comic tone but never goes over the top, and the warmth in her voice makes the characters sympathetic and likable. Kudrow gives each character a distinctive voice: raspy Ruth, whose confident, wisecracking exterior hides the pain of caring for a husband disabled by a stroke; shy, timid Lisa and her embarrassingly loud, brassy, alcoholic mother; conflicted Maddie, trying to decide whether to work on her troubled marriage or have an affair; and their nemesis, snooty, hilariously bitchy PTA president Suzanne. The comic tale is rooted in reality that keeps the listener sympathetic to the protagonists even during the plot's most absurd twists (e.g., during a midnight covert operation, the women unexpectedly come upon the PTA president engaged in a m nage trois). By turns hilarious and poignant, this is chick lit that works perfectly on audio. Simultaneous release with the Morrow hardcover (Reviews, May 8). (Aug.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Maddie Schein, Ruth Moss, and Lisa Slotnick couldn't be more different, but thrown together as the publicity committee of their Applewood, Long Island, PTA, their common goal is to get a George Clooney movie filmed at their local elementary school. Between getting stung by the queen bee PTA president, juggling a wild assortment of quirky family members, and reconciling with secret heartbreaks, the three manage to pull off a coup of unimagined proportions and hilarious effects. Meister's debut novel is heartbreakingly funny, her characters facing life's dramas and disappointments head on with wit and spunk. This sharp and sassy beach read might entice Desperate Housewives fans. Strongly recommended for all public libraries. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

This is a book about three housewives in Applewood, NY, who yearn for something more fulfilling than what is offered by their families and their membership in the local PTA. The main characters-quirky, grating, and peculiar-are trapped in a prison of duty and sexual repression. Bashful Lisa Slotnick tries to understand her abusive, alcoholic mother, who has asked to move in with her while she undergoes rehab. Maddie Schein, an emotionally unbalanced ex-lawyer, is certain her husband is having an affair with his cousin. Impetuous Ruth Moss's husband suffered a stroke that has left him exhibiting sexually inappropriate behavior. A Hollywood location scout comes to Applewood, surveys the local elementary schoolyard, and decides it would make an ideal background for a forthcoming George Clooney film. In between stereotypical manicures, laundry crises, extramarital affairs, and swimsuit fittings, the women team up to make sure arrangements go smoothly for the movie shoot. Lisa Kudrow's narration is irritating in this disheartening, one-dimensional novel. Not recommended.
—Carol Stern

Kirkus Reviews
Three conflicted housewives in Applewood, Long Island, long for something more fulfilling than what their families and their membership in the local PTA offer. The Applewood elementary school is going to be the set of a George Clooney movie. Lisa Slotnick, Maddie Schein and Ruth Moss team up to make sure preparations go smoothly. The women find themselves pitted against a buff and blonde nemesis, PTA president Suzanne, who wants all the glory for herself. This leads to madcap escapades and silly sniping amongst the women. All in good fun. The juicy bits concern the women's lives outside the PTA. Each is trapped in a prison of family obligation and sexual repression. Ruth, whose husband suffered a debilitating stroke, is carrying on a steamy affair with the school's guilt-laden superintendent. Maddie, who is convinced that her beloved husband is sleeping with his cousin, decides to get him back by hooking up with her former best male friend from college. And Lisa is struggling to come to terms with her abusive and alcoholic mother, who has asked to move in with the Slotnicks while she attends rehab nearby. As each woman grapples with her emotions, the trio becomes closer in their attempt to bring the movie project to fruition and to thwart the wretched Suzanne. Ultimately, though, they succeed in the larger task of helping each other realize their dreams. Comical yet poignant read without too much melodrama.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423312123
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Publication date: 8/1/2006
  • Format: MP3 on CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Ellen Meister

Ellen Meister grew up in the PTA-enriched heartland of suburban Long Island and spent her early career in publishing and advertising. She lives in New York with her husband and three children. This is her first novel.

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Read an Excerpt

Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA

Chapter One

Maddie

Maddie Schein drove into the parking lot of the North Applewood Elementary School and found a space between two massive SUVs, glinting majestically in the morning sun. She thought she saw the designer vehicles bristle at the proximity of her four-year-old, in-need-of-a-wash minivan. Ridiculous, she told herself. They're hunks of metal. And besides, even if they could judge her, why should she care? It's not like she even aspired to such trophies.

Still, she wished she could wear the source of her pride on the outside, like the other PTA women did. But you can't drive a law degree, or slip your IQ over your shoulders and tie it into a jaunty knot.

She slammed the van door and headed toward the building, wondering why she cared so much about impressing these women. Didn't she have enough self-esteem without their approval? Didn't she get enough reassurance from Bruce, her husband?

Well, no. And maybe that was part of the problem. Maybe that was why she sought recognition here. It had been so long since Bruce had showered her with the kind of assurances she craved that she was starved for appreciation. And after getting that phone call this morning from his cousin, she was more than just needy. She was desperate.

She pushed open the double doors to the cafeteria where the first meeting of the year was about to start. As she scanned the room for familiar faces, Maddie wondered if she would ever feel like she had a place in this town's social strata. Little did she know that a year later she would walk into this very same room bearing the town'smost important news since Mr. Abbot, the principal of the high school, was caught with Mr. McCann, the art teacher, in the janitor's closet. Only it wouldn't be about faculty. It would be about George Clooney.

Maddie scanned the room, trying to find a friendly face among the crowd of women who were still milling about, chatting in small groups. She spotted a hand waving spiritedly. It was Mary Molinari, a sweet but hypertalkative woman who managed to work into almost every conversation that she was related, however remotely, to the superintendent of schools.

Maddie also got a nod from Donna Fishbein, an icy dermatologist whose husband had recently been indicted for stock fraud.

Toward the front of the room, Maddie noticed Suzanne Podobinski, head of the PTA and one of the impeccably groomed women who gave the town's female population its reputation for high-maintenance perfection. Looking at Suzanne and her group, most of whom were actually from Applewood Estates, a more affluent hamlet to the north with multiacre zoning and long driveways, Maddie remembered a joke she had made to an old college friend. "You've got it all wrong," she had said, "the women here run the gamut from blond to brunette, from thin to very thin."

It wasn't true of course, and Maddie knew it. The town had its share of diversity. If not in gene lines, then in waistlines at least. It was just that this elite group of women shone so brightly they eclipsed everyone else.

"Maddie!" Suzanne called, waving.

Widely regarded as a bitch, Suzanne sometimes seemed almost fond of Maddie, who understood it was the lawyer card working to her advantage again. And maybe it was the kind of thing everyone did, trying to find the ace that could bolster their status&#8212like Mary Molinari and her tenuous relationship to the superintendent&#8212but it had been so long since Maddie actually had practiced law that publicizing it was beginning to feel like a lie.

Maddie said hello to Suzanne, glancing past her to where she thought she saw her good friend Beryl Berman winding her way though the crowd.

"Who does Russell have?" Suzanne shouted over the din. Their boys were friends and eager to be in the same class.

"Mrs. Shulansky," Maddie said, referring to one of North Applewood's second-grade teachers. "How about Noah?"

"Collins," Suzanne said, pouting to illustrate her disappointment that her son was in a different class.

"We'll have to make a playdate," Maddie consoled. Suzanne was summoned by one of her fancy friends and waved good-bye.

Maddie looked back to the spot where she had seen Beryl only to discover that she stood about an inch away.

"Hey," Beryl said.

"How do you do that?" Maddie asked.

"Do what?"

"Appear out of nowhere."

"I tend to go invisible," said Beryl, "it's a special power I have. But it only works here in Applewood."

At five foot one, with a round shape and dark frizzy hair she had given up on, Beryl was not one of the lovelier women in the town. If you asked her about this, she would tell you it was fine with her, as she had no desire to live a life like the Applewood women who thought that the term "Miracle Mile"&#8212a nickname for the designer shopping strip that cinched Long Island's tony North Shore&#8212was literal.

Beryl pointed at Suzanne's group with her chin. "Look at them. Are they all on their way to tennis games, or are those special little PTA outfits?"

Maddie smiled. Thank God for Beryl. "If they don't show off their asses," Maddie said, "what's the point of all those hours at the gym?"

"You sound as bitter as me today. What's going on?"

Maddie sighed. "We got this wedding invitation from some distant relative of Bruce's. Since it's out of town and we barely know her, we decided not to go. So I stuck the invitation in a kitchen drawer, figuring I'd send my regrets when I had time to write a nice note. Believe me, I was thrilled we weren't going. Besides the fact that it's so hard to find someone to watch the kids for a weekend, I didn't think this wedding would be the best thing for our marriage right now."

"Why not?"

"Because I was thinking that Bruce's cousin Jenna might be there."

Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA. Copyright © by Ellen Meister. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 22, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Entertaining quick read.

    Ellen Meister creates characters that draw you in, because they're real loveable but with plenty of their own faults. This book, like her others, make you wish you were part of the Beryl, Ruth, Maddie, and Lisa's clique. Fantastic read that had me laughing outloud on the elliptical in the middle of gold's gym.

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  • Posted February 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    LISA KUDROW SHINES IN THIS NARRATION

    Instead of the usual bake sales or auctions to raise money for a new stadium, it begins to look as if the Applewood PTA has struck it rich - a movie company has scouted their school and thinks it might be the perfect location for a film. Seldom has there been so much excitement in this small Long Island town. Excitement almost becomes pandemonium when they learn that George Clooney may be the star of the movie. This debut novel by Ellen Meister is chick lit at its best with sympathetic, likeable characters and sharply drawn dialogue. In addition to the prospect of up close and personal Clooney sightings each protagonist has personal issues with which she must deal. Maddie Schein, a former lawyer, could use some good advice - her marriage is in deep trouble and the appearance of Jack Rose, a friend from college, who wants to have his way with her confuses Maddie even further. Ruth Moss, according to her friends, seems to have it all - she's wealthy, articulate, and attractive. However, her husband's stroke has left him impotent and her playing full-time nurse and nanny. Lisa Slotnick, loved by all, is shy and most comfortable when not the center of attention. It's hard for her to stay out of the spotlight when her mother , unfortunately, is a loud, abrasive alcoholic. Last but not least (every book has to have one) there is Suzanne, the uppity, bossy president of the PTA. Her comeuppance is hysterical! Lisa Kudrow, in her debut as an audio book narrator, gives a star performance as she segues easily from one personality to another. Sometimes the scene is a comic one, at other times it is poignant. We welcome her to the A List of voice performers. - Gail Cooke

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2006

    outstanding

    The private lives of three Applewood, Long Island housewives get thrown into turmoil when a production company announces its interest in filming on location at their elementary school. Although married and with children, the three characters in Meister's book prove that there's still a whole lot of life, longing, determination, and inspriation in these women. They're great moms who love and care for their kids, but they're also individuals with problems and dreams, turmoil and aspirations that reach far beyond their parenting. Maddie Schein is struggling to find the spark in her marriage, worried that her husband Bruce finds his own cousin more interesting than his wife. Ruth Moss has been taking care of partially paralyzed, impotent, and brain damaged husband for three years and she longs for the spark of passion herself. Lisa Slotnick's spotlight stealing, alcholic mother throws a monkey wrench into her family life when she needs help rehabbing. These three women comprise the Applewood PTA sub-committee put in charge of acting as a liason with the film company. But they don't just have their hands full with their personal lives. The school project may also be in jeopardy when PTA president Suzanne decides to wrestle the prestigious control of the project away from the three underlings. Through plenty of laughter and tears, the three very different women bond together quickly, forming deep friendships and sticking together to hopefully conquer all. Will Maddie find bliss with Bruce? Will Ruth get her mojo satisfied? Will Lisa be able to cope with her demanding mother? And most importantly -- will George Clooney be coming to film his movie in Applewood? Funny and lovable characters, a can't put-down plot, and great writing make this an incredible novel that you'll savor, even as you race through to find out what happens next. Meister has a gold mine in here, not just with her leading ladies, but also with a truly wonderful supporting cast. From the wisecracking Beryl to punishment loving Paul, Meister brings everyone to life. But Meister doesn't stop with the delightful entertainment she also mines deep, showing us what makes a woman's heart beat and her soul suffer and soar. You'll be thrilled to get to know everyone in this neighborhood. And then you'll be really sad when you have to say goodbye.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2006

    A Great Debut

    If you like Jennifer Weiner, Jennifer Crusie or Susan Issacs, you¿ll LOVE Ellen Meister¿s Secret Confessions of the Applewood PTA. Fans of Richard Russo, Richard Yates and Tom Perotta will also enjoy the quality of the writing. The novel follows three women who bond when their kids¿ school is set as a location for a Hollywood movie (starring the fantasy-inducing George Clooney no less). These characters should not be dismissed as mere housewives, as they are very capable women who use their (often hidden) talents to go after what they want. They are sympathetic characters with depth whose friendship helps them overcome their domestic problems as well as a domineering PTA president. It takes place on Long Island, with its micro-stratified society that has distinctions that are imperceptible to outsiders. People there know where they are in the pecking order and feel an acute sense of superiority to those they see below them and harbor envy and resentment towards the people just above them. This fast-paced, very entertaining book is filled with great dialogue, quirky minor characters, laughs, tears and sex. A great beach read or book club choice, it is a book you will recommend to all your friends.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2006

    A colorful tale

    Suzanne Podobinski leads the Applewood, Long Island elementary school PTA drive to raise funds to build a small stadium with everything going smoothly as everyone is in agreement and gets on with one another. That changes when a Hollywood location scout visits Applewood to ascertain whether Appleton Elementary would make a good locale for a George Clooney movie. That information sends the PTA members squabbling into two camps that of President Suzanne and three opponents.--------------------- The enemies of President Suzanne are divided except in opposition to her and not wanting to spend time doing the symbolic PTA gig. Lawyer Maddie Schein is more concerned that her husband desires his cousin not her so the PTA is not important. Songwriter Ruth Moss is tired mentally after three years as the sole caretaker of her partially paralyzed spouse and dreams of making love with Clooney but guiltily settles for a local school superintendent. Lisa Slotnick wife of a millionaire computer genius feels as if her past has destroyed her standing when her alcoholic mother visits her. Still each of these ladies has their own PTA concept and will use extortion and blackmail to achieve their objective but if they team up watch out Suzanne, Clooney and anyone one else challenging the Applewood PTA insurgency.------------------------ Tongue in cheek, this understated battle of the suburban PTA moms is an amusing deep tale that focuses on how important it is to have time for oneself but also must believe in oneself. The four female protagonists are fully developed characters with self anointed VIP Suzanne battling to insure her three opponents remain divided while her adversaries know they must overcome their personal agendas and unite if they want to win. The contest brings out the best and the worst in the Applewood PTA.------------------ Harriet Klausner

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    Posted April 8, 2011

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    Posted October 3, 2010

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    Posted January 15, 2011

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