The Snag List: A smart and sardonic romp through saccharine suburbia

It’s here , after copious glasses of prosecco and cocktails , in a haze of Chablis and ennui that Lindy has her eureka moment and wonders what it would be like if you could snag list your life and have another  shot at unfulfilled dreams and ambitions and take the other road , the one less travelled. Lindy had studied psychology before becoming a mother and regretted the abrupt end of her studies and career.  Promptly purchasing Lindy starts rolling out her plan to launch the business and give clients a chance at a “do over”. Meanwhile she would cut her teeth coaching her new  friends in Monteray  who would provide fertile fodder. Simultaneously this zeitgeist surfer would fulfill one of her own personal dreams and reengage with the world of psychology.

Sophie White sets The Snag List in an uber -modern aspirational housing development called Monteray Valley, a middle- class gated utopia on the fringes of Dublin “easily twenty kilometres from the nearest Penneys.”A home here comes complete with a “life curator” who  aims to build a  bespoke life for every family, with every whim catered to and every tedious bit of daily drudgery out sourced to staff described as “ au pairs for adults.” This luxury living with Californian vibes has been carefully constructed architecturally and philosophically to ensure residents live a long and happy life. What can possibly go wrong for any residents of this saccharine suburban retreat ? We meet Ailbhe, Lindy and Roe at the Monteray mixer where all the new residents enjoy some bubbles and are shown around a show house by Esme, the social director. Lindy is the mother of Max, a YouTube  star who spends his days churning out content with his hyper-fun dad Adam to a  captive audience for the aptly named  channel Maxxed Out.  Escaping the small talk and phoniness Lindy takes refuge in a hammock suspended from the ceiling in the play room where she meets a fellow escapee Roe, who has been vaping in a tepee far from the madding  mixer.                                                                                                    The trio are complete when Ailbhe bursts into the room alerted by the sound of crumbling plaster as it fell in chunks when Lindy tried to extricate herself from the chair. Having escaped the ire of Esme the three women bond over the snag list for the builders. Roe thinks that some of the finishes had been iffy and that Monteray was ‘like Disneyland for middle-class families” and Ailbhe reveals that her husband Tom, a tech mogul, was one of the original investors in Monteray and that she would be leaving soon to join him in California with their baby Tilly. Lindy finds these women refreshingly real and decides to set up a WhatsApp for the snag list where they can pool their grievances while  Ailbhe invites them to her house the following weekend for “some medicinal Sunday boozing.”

Sophie White has  demonstrated  her keen psychological insight , sardonic wit and whip-smart intelligence in her book of essays Corpsing . This skill set is much in evidence in the portrayal of the characters in The Snag List. They are conjured onto the  page in glorious technicolor with all their faults and flaws, their perfect  exterior life often jarring with an interiority full of fear and loathing. The account of the birthday party for a five year old boy in Monteray, the son of Yoga Mum Rachel shows White’s easy facility for social critique. Lindy, Roe and Ailbhe have privately dubbed the other women in the development “Athleisure Mamas” as they all donned similar high-end gym  gear,  had hair coiffed to perfection and fingers adorned with “a requisite rake of diamonds.” The male equivalent had been labelled “Sports Casual Dads” by the trio, a samey heterogenous perma-tanned group attired in expensive surf gear with Hugo Boss shades. They party like the last days of the Roman empire swilling back the booze and descending on shots of jagermeister “like hyenas discovering a carcass. ”A pep station in an ensuite dispenses cocaine to any of the party goers whose spirits are flagging including Ailbhe who treats herself to a “bump” for her last hurrah before leaving for America. Lindy has a sense of the mid-life malaise infecting all of them, herself included, a kind of numbness now that all their aspirational milestones have been reached.

The novel brings us on a speedy romp through these women’s lives as they all grapple with their unique snag lists full of relationship issues and confidence crises, secrets and lies. This is sex in the suburbs in the age of the internet featuring   VR headsets, reality tv contestants,sex tapes, magic mushrooms, deep fakes, sexting, trolls and the inevitable “shitemares” that result. The dialogue is full of hilarious one liners and witty riposte  a la Dorothy Parker , the plot keeps thickening and kept this reader turning pages manically just to get another hit of reading dopamine. Expect to see The Snag List on all the must read lists this Summer and stimulating lots of discussions and laughs in Bookclubs full of athleisure affionados.