A Glimpse Into the Lives of the Wealthiest 1%

Sociologist-turned-novelist Patricia Leavy, PhD, explores appearance versus reality - how our lives and relationships look to others versus how they really are - the importance of female friendships, and how money and power can shape relationships.

Imagine being born into incredible wealth, never worrying about money, dining at the hottest restaurants, sporting designer clothes and having a staff to attend to your every need. It may appear that nothing could go wrong, but things are rarely as they seem. Sociologist-turned-novelist Patricia Leavy, PhD, explores these issues and more in her highly anticipated twentieth book release, American Circumstance: Anniversary Edition. This is a novel grounded in years of interview research with women about their relationships and identities. The Bushes and Kennedys even make a brief appearance.

American Circumstance: Anniversary Edition explores appearances versus reality in high society. “Sometimes we get ideas about people’s lives based on what they present publicly,” says Dr. Leavy, “and those ideas can be quite wrong.”

"This story keeps the reader interested and wondering why women make the choices they do."

Margaret A. Robbins, Reviewer at The Journal of Language & Literacy Education

With rarely seen insight into the lives of the privileged top 1% of the country, American Circumstance explores:

·         Appearance versus reality – how our lives and relationships look to others versus how they really are

·         Social class - how it shapes identity, opportunities and relationships in complex ways

·         The top 1% - how power, capital and politics are interlinked in the US

·         Female friendships – how meaningful relationships are central to a woman’s happiness

·         A global connection – how gender, social class, race are intertwined throughout the world

Paige Michaels comes from the kind of wealth that few experience. The daughter of a notoriously successful banker who wielded great political power, she grew up in an extraordinary world peopled by the leaders of tomorrow. Now one mistake rooted in her past is threatening to unravel her perfect life. After years as a stay-at-home mom in New Jersey, Mollie Johnston convinces her husband to move back to New York, to fulfill her dream of living amid the bright lights. Mollie is uncomfortable in her own body and always worried about how others see her. Once she sees how the other half lives, perhaps she will come to see herself and her marriage more clearly. Gwen McAndrews is the ultimate New York socialite, and the envy of those impressed by her grandeur, but there is more than meets the eye.

“I used an impressionist approach to writing American Circumstance,” explains Dr. Leavy. “In order to push on the bounds of the appearance versus reality theme, I conceptualized the novel as if it were an impressionist painting. An impressionist painting can look very different from afar than it does close up, just as our lives and relationships can. A literary style developed from the theory of impressionism; this approach to writing is based on associations, repetition, and symbolism. The novel is divided into three parts, with the first (and longest) covering moments over an expanse of four decades. The second part unfolds over a period of a few months, and the final part transpires over just a few days. A narrator’s viewpoint dominates the beginning of the novel, providing a distant view, and the interiority of characters is increasingly presented as we reach the book’s conclusion, providing a closer perspective. In this regard, the novel explores how others see the characters, how we as readers see them, and how they see themselves. As our perspective changes and the characters and their circumstances are revealed, we are invited to consider what is truly important in their lives and hopefully in our own.”

American Circumstance is a part of the Social Fictions series, the only academic book series that exclusively publishes literary works based on scholarly research. Series creator and editor, Patricia Leavy, Ph.D., an independent sociologist and novelist (formerly associate professor of sociology, chairperson of sociology and criminology, and founding director of gender studies at Stonehill College) started the series because she was frustrated that academic research rarely reaches public audiences. Believing in the unique power of the arts to engage people and fueled by research in literary neuroscience that suggests reading fiction affects readers more deeply than nonfiction, Leavy partnered with the academic press Sense Publishers. The Social Fictions series has become one of their fastest-growing and most successful book series, garnering numerous awards including a 2014 Special Achievement Award from the American Creativity Association. Blue has already been nominated for both several trade and academic book awards. Even those in the beauty industry are impressed with Leavy’s approach to literary self-care. Sabbatical Beauty, an independent beauty start-up, sold one of Leavy’s novels as a part of a spring skincare package.

American Circumstance is a summer must-read.


Patricia Leavy

Kennebunk, ME


United States

Direct Inquiries to Shalen Lowell, Assistant to Dr. Leavy, shalenlowell@gmail.com

Review Copies available to media by request here.

Source: Sense Publishers