About Me

Ithaca, New York
MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

#84: Hedge Fund Wives

Hedge Fund Wives, by Tatiana Boncompagni (New York: Avon, 2009)

"When her husband, John, is recruited to be a big-time hedge fund manager, Marcy Emerson gives up her job, uproots her life, and moves from Chicago to New York City. But try as she might, March is never going to fit into one of the supposed seven categories of Hedge Fund Wives -- the Accidental, the Westminster, the Stephanie Seymour, the Former Secretary, the Socialite, the Workaholic, or the Breeder -- especially when behind every smile may lurk a stab in the back.

"In a perfect world John would have been there to help her navigate the waters, but in this volatile financial market, relationships have a way of nosediving faster than the Dow, and March quickly finds herself tossed aside for a thinner, blonder model. But while living out of suitcases and drowning her sorrows in cocktails, Marcy realizes it's time to get back up on her own two feet again ... and fight for those things in life that are far more important than money."

Opening Line:
"When I first opened the invitation to Caroline Reinhardt's baby shower, I thought I'd received it by mistake."

My Take:
Polished this off in half a day, and I feel as though I just had a big bowl of popcorn for supper. It's fun and tasty in the short term, partly because you feel like you're getting away with something, but doesn't do much to nourish or sustain you over the long haul.

The back-of-the-jacket blurb pretty much sums up the story line. Marcy, our heroine and narrator, is established as a fish out of water from the get-go, starting with the first-chapter sequence in which her pink parka stands out like a sore thumb amid a coat closet full of furs, and Caroline Reinhardt decides she's not worth talking to because she doesn't hire an interior decorator. At John's insistence, she'd given up her own banking career in anticipation of one day staying at home with their children, but after a recent miscarriage and the move to Manhattan, she's still reeling. It doesn't help that the other hedge fund wives, whether employed in their own right or not, seem interested primarily in extreme competitive shopping.

She does meet the glamorous but warm, if a little high-strung, Jill at the aforementioned baby shower, and through her, eventually meets Gigi, a caterer and cookbook author who (despite her marriage to yet another Wall St. VIP) becomes her closest friend and confidante. She and John also begin to socialize with Ainsley and Peter, despite that couple's precarious finances. As is telegraphed early on, this is where the trouble begins; Ainsley, panicked at Peter's fortune and aware of John's rising-star status, decides to trade up, and when Marcy spontaneously flies to Miami to visit John at a conference, she catches the pair in flagrante. With the help of a tough divorce lawyer Gina recommends, Marcy resists John's early settlement offers and ultimately walks away with a cool $15 million ... just in time to see Ainsley's pregnancy in the society pages, and realize how long her affair with John had been going on.

Marcy eventually comes out on top, and John does get a comeuppance of sorts, but this is no First Wives Club. It's far shorter on humor, and rather excessive in the descriptions of conspicuous consumption. (The excess is the point, I know, but it still makes for tedious reading after yet another over-the-top baby shower or dinner party.) All in all, an OK read, but I'd have liked a bit less of the bling, and more exploration of the edge-of-recession era in which the story is set.

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