What can I say? Josie Brown’s Totlandia: The Onesies is chick lit. Chick lit specifically for the mommy set. Normally, I am a reader of literary fiction, of young adult fiction, of sci-fi and fantasy and other speculative fiction, of classic fiction, but once in a while I crave a good, quickie chick lit read. Josie Brown’s Totlandia delivers. Imagine the high-fashion, status-conscious set of Gossip Girl in their early 30s with babies in tow, set in San Francisco, and you have Brown’s world, where young mothers vie to get their one year olds a position on the fast track to social status and financial success.
This novel follows the efforts of four parents who attempt to get into the prestigious Pacific Heights Moms and Tots play group, a group in which only a few slots are given to the very best applicants from the very best families. Each of these parents has a secret she (and in one case he) hopes the rest of the group, and particularly the group’s founder Bettina Connaught Cross, won’t discover as this secret may jeopardize the position of the child in the play group and thus threaten the child’s social position for the rest of the child’s life. The first in a proposed series, this is merely “Book 1—Fall” of The Onesies. This is conceivably a series that could stretch for four “quarters” from the “Onesies” all the way through the “Fivesies,” providing us with not just one but potentially up to twenty volumes of Brown’s escapist fantasy.
And truly, the best I can say about this novel is that it’s entertaining escapism. It reads much like watching a soap opera. The characters are not particularly well developed, dynamic, or even likable. There’s not enough substance in any of them to actually be able to relate to them. And yet, they are entertaining enough to observe as they lie, cheat, and even sleep their way into the PHM&T. The intrigue, deceit, and outright shenanigans that the characters engage in are, in one way despicable but at the same time not quite believable enough to actually despise.
Marked by the occasional reference to pop culture (Project Runway, The Hunger Games) and lots of fashion name dropping, it’s difficult to think of this work as timeless in any way. But these very references make the work a fun read, as we glimpse the life of both the old money and the noveau riche of San Francisco as they vie for a foothold on the social ladder. Again, this feels very much like Gossip Girl repackaged for young mothers.
Will this novel change your life? Absolutely not. Will you learn something deep and profound about the human condition or about yourself? No. Will you pass a few hours in the problems of someone else, someone with much more glamorous problems than your own? Yes. If you dig chick lit with lots of fashion, back stabbing and a little sex. I almost hate to admit it, but I can’t wait for the next in the series.
Also by Josie Brown: The Baby Planner
Drennan Spitzer is a writer and blogger from California who now resides in New England. She writes creatively, blogs publicly, and journals privately. You can find her at http://drennanspitzer.com.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Coliloquy. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.