THE RECESSIONISTAS by Alexandra Lebenthal


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In a caricature account of the recent financial collapse, Upper East Side queen bees receive their comeuppances while other, nicer members of their circle emerge stronger.

For her debut, Lebenthal—CEO of Lebenthal & Company—delivers a primer on the slice of New York society that benefited from the crazed investing and lavish spending preceding the 2008 meltdown. Peopled with one-dimensional characters (the profane hedge fund manager; the over-indulged society wife; the gracious working-class self-starter), it follows the fortunes of three women: Grigsby Somerset, wife of Lehman employee Blake, who lives a privileged life of multiple homes, charity galas and couture clothes; Sasha Silver, the unhappy CEO of an asset management company; and Renee Parker, the smart, kind daughter of Grigsby’s maid, now working in finance as PA to John Cutter, the thuggish boss of an acclaimed hedge fund. As world-renowned banks go under, the financial certainties of this group collapse and in a desperate move Blake helps Cutter avoid even greater losses via an illegal “switcheroo.” Grigsby, bewildered by her reduced budget, divorces Blake while Sasha finally decides to go solo. Matters turn increasingly farcical as Sasha, Renee and another gal pal hasten the downfall of the now murderous Cutter by figuring out the illegal switch. Appropriate rewards and punishments ensue.

Wooden dialogue and simplistic storytelling diminish this Lipstick Jungle wannabe.

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-446-56367-3
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2010