Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Recessionistas by Alexandra Lebenthral Review and GIVEAWAY

From Publisher:  It's the day after Labor Day, 2008, and the elite universe of New York's Upper East Side is about to unravel along with the economy. Socialite Grigsby Somerset is barely aware of her changing world, and has no idea her investment banker husband Blake is about to enter into a devil's bargain with hedge fund owner John Cutter. As autumn unfolds, Grigsby's fairytale life starts to unwind.

Street-smart Renee Parker has been hired as John's executive assistant and is convinced that something is amiss with her new boss. Renee enlists her friend Sasha Silver, CEO of Silver Partners, to help her decipher what is happening. They soon discover that John is nearly ruined, except for the assets he is hiding in the Cayman Islands from his wife Mimi, and has concocted with Blake a scheme to redeem himself. This tale of expulsion from a modern-day Garden of Eden captures what happens when economic decline spells ruin for Manhattan's pampered elite.

My take:  I'm going to be honest here.  I cheated.  I read a couple of reviews on this book before I started it.  My expectations were low. When I started reading it I knew I would have to skim certain parts of it.  For instance, "name brand" to me is Sonoma from Kohl's.  High end clothing are Lucky Jeans I find on the clearance rack at Macy's.  I skipped through entire pages cataloging designer clothes, purses, and shoes.  Four inch hills with an Italian name?  Absolutely not.  I stopped when I read "four inch heels."  I have no nanny, personal assistant, personal shopper, or chauffeur.  My children go out in public without passing a color-coordination scrutiny, much less dressing in $600 dresses and shoes. I'm tickled when they comb their hair.

Let's be honest.  I didn't put on make up all day.  I have no charity events on my calendar.  I have no formal wear. I do, however, own a couple of $100 shoes.  Not because they were absolutely darling but I love my tootsies and have strong feelings against slamming my toes into unnatural positions. Also, one of them was on sale. The other pair I justified.  They were $99.

Is this a review or a confession?  A little of both.  I'm going to go further and make some outrageous admissions.  I bought my latest purse at a second hand store called "Deseret Industries."  The two purses I had before this one I bought in Tijuana.  No name.

My husband and I both have advanced degrees.  We both work.  We make a comfortable living.  We have an affordable mortgage.  Our cars are paid for; They are both quickly approaching "clunker" status. We eat at national chains or little podunk ma and pa establishments to support the local economy.

The characters in this story have nothing in common with me.  Nada.  They are simply women who have so much money that retail therapy is far beyond what most women would consider. They are not particularly endearing because I had very little to connect with them about.  So I decided to break this book into a couple views.

1.  This is a story of some of the elite who were directly impacted by the stock market decline in 2008 and learned and adjusted. Skip over the Wall Street talk. 

2.  This is an excellent "Wall Street for Dummies" guide with a fictional story to keep your interest. If you are completely baffled by hedge funds, selling short, blah, blah, blah, blah, the dialogue within the pages provides clear and succinct descriptions of Wall Street lingo and the crash and burn of 2008. 

You can read it either way and still have an enjoyable read. The author is the president and CEO of Lebanthal & Company and its multifamily office, Alexander & James.  She is alos a contributing editor for New York Social Diary.  In other words, I doubt very much she made up this stuff.  She knows Wall Street.  She knows the terms.  She knows the people with whom she created, although I'm pretty sure identifying characteristics have been removed.

There is subtle humor.  The people she has created are caricatures of the few, the proud, and the disgustingly rich. Oh, and there is karma.  It's an intelligent yet completely inane story and I think that is the point.

By the way, one character, Grigsby, possesses a closet the size of the top floor of my first home with my husband. Cozy as it was, it had no closet space. Oddly, my ball dresses took up no space at all.

Be prepared for a lot of strong language.  Every time John enters a scene, just pull out your white-out and start the censoring. This is not unconstitutional.  I've yelled at teenagers for this.  I've announced the presence of children in restaurants to my potty-mouth table neighbors.

I give it a solid 3 stars, bordering on 3 and half.

This is the giveaway part. 2 copies want a home.  It doesn't have to be Park Avenue or Manhatten.  If you want it, leave a comment with your email address.

For an extra entry, make a second comment describing what you would do with discretionary money.  Christian Di'or diamond tennis bracelet?  Swiss chalet in the Alps?  Aspen Cabin? 
As for me, I'd probably be completely reckless and buy a newer minivan.  Maybe this time with a built-in DVD player. Okay, granite counter tops in the kitchen and bathrooms.  I might even buy a truck for my husband.  "To haul stuff," is why he wants one.  He just wants to take his dog for a ride so she can hang her head over the side and have her ears stand up and her jowls fill with air.

We live big.

Contest ends August 27th.

Book was provided by Hatchette Book Group in exchange for an honest review.

18 comments:

Autumn said...

I've had my eye on this book for awhile now. It looks pretty good!

autumn. crochet@ gmail. com

Autumn said...

If I got a sudden windfall, I would finish paying off the rest of out unsecured debt...there's just a tiny bit left now and then take a fabulous vacation with the whole family...the kids want to go to Atlantis.

autumn .crochet @ gmail. com

Rebecca said...

I am currently reviewing this also and have a giveaway. I am 100 pages in and not really the interested. When it first started I thought it was gonna be good! Does it get any better?

(dont enter me in giveaway)

Vidisha said...

Looks like a good book

GFC follower

vidisha

vidishamun@gmail.com

Jenny Bolech said...

I'd love to give it a try :)

jenny.maurer84 at gmail dot com

Jenny Bolech said...

I'd take a trip to some place exotic! I know it's something both my husband and I would enjoy!
jenny.maurer84 at gmail dot com

Teresa said...

I'd like to give this one a try.

teresasreadingcorner at gmail dot com

Teresa said...

What would I do with a windfall? I think I'd buy a winery and move the family there to spend our time making wine.

teresasreadingcorner at gmail dot com

CountessLaurie said...

A windfall? Oh my heck! I would hire a tutor for my children and travel the world. Or just hire a tutor for my children. Beyond that, maybe buy a Wrangler. Champagne dreams, I know :-)

l.moore.j at gmail.com

debbie said...

I would like to read this.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

debbie said...

If I got a windfall, I would buy a nice car.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

pmernick said...

I'd like to read this, although I've never had a ball gown...
PMNSL95 at triad dot rr dot com

pmernick said...

With a sudden windfall I'd probably trade in the old minivan for a Camry, maybe get some new clothes. We live big, too.
PMNSL95 at triad dot rr dot com

Rebecca Graham said...

Sounds like a good book.

rhoneygtn at yahoo dot com

allisonsbj3 said...

Thanks for this giveaway!

allisonsbj3(at)gmail(dot)com

allisonsbj3 said...

I would go on a nice long cruise with my boyfriend.

allisonsbj3(at)gmail(dot)com

headlessfowl said...

I want it!

headlessfowl at jteers dot net

headlessfowl said...

I would buy a house.

headlessfowl at jteers dot net