Author of Park Avenue Exposé Stands by 'Wife Bonuses' Claim as Book Comes Under Fire
After Primates of Park Avenue is called a book of lies, Simon & Schuster shares an upcoming disclaimer with PEOPLE
New York City author Wednesday Martin is standing by the controversial claim in her memoir, Primates of Park Avenue that some ultra-wealthy stay-at-home-moms get “wife bonuses.”
“Not everyone calls them that, but these types of arrangements were described to me about a dozen times,” Martin tells PEOPLE.
In an email exchange following several reports asserting that “wife bonuses” for women on NYC’s wealthy Upper East Side do not exist, Martin says of those who question the bonuses: “Perhaps they don’t receive them. Some women say they receive a portion of their husbands’ bonuses or an allowance, or a gift.”
Or maybe it’s all in the name, she suggests.
Martin says that, in conversations she had with fellow with Upper East Side women in putting her memoir together, the payments “were referred to as bonuses, allowances and gifts. I have heard of payments stipulated in prenups and also of women receiving a portion of their husbands’ bonuses. Someone used the term ‘wife bonus’ when describing it to me.”
Asked about performance metrics used by husbands to determine the size of the bonus, Martin says: “I was told of payments as a thank you, recognition, gift or way to ‘even out’ so there was more parity in finances.”
Martin corresponded with PEOPLE as yet more controversy about Primates unspooled in the skeptical New York press.
Related Video: A Dramatic Reading of Primates of Park Avenue: A Memoir
On Sunday, the New York Post blared in one headline: “Upper East Side housewife’s tell-all book is full of lies.”
The story pointed to several discrepancies in Martin’s account in the book. One prominent apparent oops: the scene in which she writes of being pregnant with her second son and on bed rest when she’s visited by an insistent and imperious Upper East Side co-op board. She describes being propped up in bed – “I wore pearls and a jacket on top and pajama bottoms under the covers” – and described the board’s interrogation about the family’s finances and personal history a “bruising and humiliating rite of passage.”
Problem is, reports the Post, Martin wasn’t pregnant when she would have gone through the process of buying her Park Avenue home.
Property records reviewed by the newspaper show she and her husband made the purchase in January 2004. Her two sons were born in 2001 and 2007.
The Post also calls out scenes referring to exercise classes, a fancy macaroon shop and even Uber, which did not exist at the time Martin was writing about.
On Monday, Martin’s publisher, Simon & Schuster told PEOPLE that a “disclaimer” would be appended to future editions of the book in the form of an author’s note to stipulate that some of the its details and dates were changed to fit the narrative and mask the identities of some of the characters.
“We are issuing an author s note that will clarify that Wednesday, in reporting Primates, changed, disguised or adjusted some names, identifying characteristics and chronologies in the interests of protecting the identities of the people she was speaking with,” Cary Goldstein, vice president and executive director of publicity at Simon & Schuster, tells PEOPLE.
“That s why she and most memoirists do this – because this is a book about a group of living, breathing private citizens and so there were people whose identities she sought to protect and that s what she did. People have raised some questions, so we decided issuing a disclaimer is the best way to address them.”