Bravo TV’s hit series, “The Real Housewives of New York City,” documents the affluent lifestyles and convoluted relationships of a group of Manhattan women. Just after the exceedingly popular reality television show began its third season, Long Island fans received a ‘real’ treat, courtesy of Huntington’s Book Revue.
Jill Zarin, one of the stars of the series, mother Gloria Kamen, and sister, Lisa Wexler, who have also taken part in the show, were at Book Revue last Monday where they spoke about and signed their new book, “Secrets of a Jewish Mother: Real Advice, Real Stories, Real Love.”
According to Lisa, the idea of the joint literary venture came to the trio after they realized how much “fans loved Gloria’s advice on the show.” Last June, with Lisa at the helm as “captain,” the women, who live in different states, began communicating with each other after the show, sharing ideas and written excerpts via email.
About six months later, right before Christmas, the final draft was submitted, Lisa indicated, adding, “It was like giving birth to a dream that I didn’t know I had.”
The result is an astonishing cornucopia of heartfelt insights from three savvy, headstrong women who share tried- and-true strategies for dealing with universal issues relating to friendship, dating, marriage, parenting, and family , and you don’t have to be Jewish to appreciate it. Readers will find the chapter entitled, “Family Focus- The Non-negotiables” to be particularly enlightening because it addresses what is probably the #1 issue that polarizes families– grudges.
In accordance with their belief in traditional values and the importance of maintaining close familial ties, the trio agreed that nothing would be included in the book unless they all agreed on it, and it wasn’t.
“It is the real deal,” Gloria said, adding that the book resonates with honesty as she desired. “I relived my life,” the matriarch of the family said of the book- writing process, adding that she hopes that readers will benefit from the mistakes that she made and “what I learned not to do.”
The book is also the real deal in the sense that there was no ghost writer, and both Jill and Lisa said that one of the things that they learned from the experience was that they could write, and write they did.
Jill refers to the show as “an emotional soap opera,” and although she couldn’t reveal any of the surprises that the season will eventually offer, she said that she hopes that each episode leaves viewers with “something to think about.” And as for the drama that animates the series, fans will find plenty of drama in the book. Family secrets spill out, and confessions unfold as personal examples from each of the women’s lives illustrate how they dealt with life lessons, such as the deterioration of a friendship, and divorce. The “ask yourself” section at the conclusion of each chapter is particularly provocative and challenges readers to reevaluate motivations and to think hard about relationships. Devotees will be intrigued to learn how Jill met her second husband, Bobby. I personally found the details as to how each of these very different women met their mates and their criteria for a love match to be particularly fascinating. Who doesn’t relish a romantic story and a happy ending ?
As fans enjoyed the opportunity to mingle with the three women after their talk, many were surprised to learn that Lisa, the award-winning host of the daily radio program, “The Lisa Wexler Show,” is also a lawyer who once worked at a prestigious Wall Street firm.
Many people make the mistake of staying with something that is not right for them, and Lisa is to be greatly admired for realizing this, and escaping from what she calls the “golden handcuffs” early in the game.
Lisa writes about this lesson movingly in the book, adding that she literally glowed the day that she gave the firm notice that she was leaving. She relishes the gift of having given herself this “second chance.”
“Practicing law didn’t satisfy my soul, but I learned to write, to advocate for causes I believed in and to express myself clearly. Today I am still teaching, advocating and communicating on the radio; it’s the same thing, just done in a different forum. Everything in life you learn, you use,” Lisa said.
In fact, Lisa, has a segment on her show called “YOU be the Judge,” where she talks about court cases and listeners call in to voice their opinions.
Lisa was recently honored with a highly prestigious Gracie Award in February for her interview with legendary feminist Gloria Steinem. The Gracie Awards, named after the famous radio and television personality Gracie Allen, are presented by the American Women in Radio and Television and honor programming in these media that is created for or by women.
Kathy Nicolette of Centerport was among the many Long Islanders who turned out in droves for the event.
Nicolette, who attended with a group of friends, has been watching “Housewives” from the show’s inception and has seen Jill evolve over the course of the show. “It’s a moment outside of our own little world,” Nicolette said of the delightful distraction that the series offers.
“They were all very nice and gracious. You feel like you know them and it’s consistent with the show,” Nicolette said.
It was a great night of camaraderie and Nicolette relishes the great conversation that ensues with her friends after the show. In terms of the book talk, Nicolette indicated that she found the women’s advice about being your child’s advocate to be particularly significant.
Mark Zambratto, the owner of Huntington’s Pink Link and his new bride, René, were also in attendance and a day later, Mark had already devoured the book’s contents.
What did Huntington’s own king of pink and green ( Lilly Pulitzer clothing, that is) think?
The show and Jill have provided him with countless hours of entertainment.
“I am an early supporter of ‘Housewives,'” Zambratto said, indicating that he especially likes Jill “because she knows what she wants and won’t tolerate negative energy. She dispenses with it. She is true to herself and those she loves.”
Of the notorious dispute between Jill and Bethenny Frankel that has rocked the series, Zambratto is on “Team Jill,” he said, adding that he was immediately hooked by the book.
“It’s full of pearls of wisdom. I love the advice. It is entertaining, insightful and funny. It is feel-good stuff, ” he said.
What he valued most was the book’s focus on family unity and harmony.
“They’re a close-knit family. It’s genuine and sincere. I was very impressed,” Zambratto concluded.
To learn more about “Secrets of a Jewish Mother,” the Housewives series, and to keep track of the comings and goings of this intrepid trio as they tour the country, visit jillzarin.com.