The Yoga Mamas
The Chick Lit genre is growing up --- and breeding. The newest
offshoot to everyone's-favorite-summer-reading-genre is Mommy Lit.
Instead of young, single, hip urban thirtysomethings wandering the
streets of Manhattan looking for love, bonding with other single
friends and dealing with angst, you get young, married/partnered
hip urban pregnant women trying to balance parenting/career
challenges, bonding with other new moms, and dealing with angst.
Otherwise, they're pretty much the same thing.
So how's an enterprising author ever going to get her book to stand
out from the crowd?
Here's a hint --- repeat after me: Om, shanti shanti
Over 18 million Americans currently practice yoga, and with
celebrity trendsetters like Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna and Cameron
Diaz (just to name a few) putting a very high-voltage face on a
trend that's been the highlight of trendy exercise studios from
coast to coast, it's a natural fit --- prenatal yoga crashes
headlong into the Chick Lit über-setting of Manhattan.
THE YOGA MAMAS is a novel ripe with possibilities: Laura, a
freelance marketing consultant, signs up for a prenatal yoga class
at an exclusive Soho studio, surrounded by Prada-clad socialites
having ultra-hip Celebrity Pregnancies. Although she despairs of
ever having anything in common with her classmates, she soon finds
herself bonding with four beautiful, wealthy women in a circle of
friends known affectionately as "The Yoga Mamas." Soon they're
swapping baby names and gossip about their significant others over
vegetarian health lunches and sharing birthing plans while
perfecting their Downward Dogs.
Before long, though, Laura discovers that there's more separating
them than income tax brackets --- each of her newfound friends has
a secret. As she moves from pregnancy into new motherhood, she's
finding herself, and the rest of the Yoga Mamas, more entangled in
each other's lives than any of them thought possible.
Katherine Stewart's novel is a lighthearted summer read that uses a
fun, trend-savvy premise as the framework for what ends up being a
very straightforward dip into standard beach read fare (yoga
enthusiasts may be a bit disappointed that the practice serves as
little more than a setting, but trend-followers will be relieved
that the novel doesn't delve heavily into the chanting OR the
poses.) The author strikes a delicate balance with her protagonist,
Laura: she starts off sounding more like a hypocrite than an
Everywoman; someone who judges her so-called friends as being
shallow and vapid while being more than happy to spend lots of time
with them and let them pick up the check. But Stewart manages to
keep Laura just truly nutty and flawed enough to keep her
interesting and sympathetic.
Her circle of friends don't fare quite as well. While some, like
Susan, are sketched with enough nuance to keep them realistic and
intriguing --- you definitely want to know more --- some, like
Isla, the Spanish Supermodel, are little more than simple
caricatures you can't help feeling the author gave up on too soon.
Surprisingly, the men fare a bit better --- although they're
subjected to supporting roles, most of them have just enough facets
to keep them feeling at least a bit fresh.
Stewart manages to keep the plot moving along nicely, and although
the end falters, the overall pace is light and lively. THE YOGA
MAMAS is a fun, breezy novel that should fit quite well into your
beach tote --- or yoga mat bag --- for an end-of-summer read.
Reviewed by Lourdes Orive on January 24, 2011
The Yoga Mamas
- Publication Date: July 5, 2005
- Genres: Fiction
- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Berkley Trade
- ISBN-10: 0425202631
- ISBN-13: 9780425202630