Reviewed by Caryn St.Clair
Club Rules is for the most part a modern day Gatsby tale. Set in the North Shore community of Eden’s Glen, the book follows the intertwined lives of several members and one couple who want to be members of the ever so exclusive Oak Hollow Country Club. With each chapter picking up the story of a different couple, readers follow the lives of the characters through the club members’ social calendar.
While it’s hard to really like any of the characters, it is equally hard not to be fascinated with their lives. First and foremost are the Winthrops. Preston Baird Winthrop’s family once owned the land the town and club are set on. He is the club’s leading citizen, and while many don’t care for him, all want to be included in his circle. His wife Anne, has always been the town beauty –a fact she knows puts other women off. Bob and Margaret Fairfield try to put up a good front, but they aren’t the Winthrops and never will be. Frank and Nancy Harcourt fall just a bit lower on the social ladder. While Nancy is the only lady in town to match Anne’s beauty, she did not come from money and is constantly trying too hard to have “the look” to compensate. Her husband Bob is living in Preston’s shadow and is resentful. While on the outside, their lives are golden, behind the scenes, they have secrets to hide and family problems just waiting to bring them down.
Paige and Norman Bond move to Eden’s Glen from the city. Paige didn’t really want to make the move, but Norman felt it was time to “move up and out.” Even if the Winthrops, Fairfields and Harcourts are not on the same social plane, they are at least on the same ladder-they belong to The Club. The Bonds do not. Norman’s attempt to crack the invisible shield that surrounds The Club has its humorous moments. However, Norman is clueless and mostly comes off as pathetic, a character to be pitied. Paige takes a different route completely by more or less ignoring the socialites and making a life for herself in the community. Which one really finds the better life in Eden’s Glen?
While there are a few plotlines that are not club related, even those move through the book by following the social life within The Club’s membership. Club Rules is a fascinating look at privileged society, and in the end, readers may well decide money and social status isn’t worth it.