The failure of an investment bank is bad news for the family of the CEO.
Madison D’Amico, the teenage protagonist of Baker’s debut, has been rigorously trained by her mother, Isabel, in the hyperawareness and discipline required of the rich and beautiful: eat grapefruit, say little, trust no one. This conditioning will shape the way she deals with the crisis that jolts her well-cushioned adolescence when her father’s investment bank is shut down, with him to blame, and to be charged, for its failure. Over many lugubrious chapters, she and her ice-queen mother will suffer the bottomless, nervy schadenfreude of their Greenwich, Connecticut, community. Also miserable will be the family’s nanny, Lily; Isabel’s one female friend, Mina Dawes; and Madison’s one female friend, Amanda, whose father is the journalist leading the charge against the CEO. After a couple weeks in hiding, D’Amico comes home to hole up in his study and, in a series of late-night conversations, confides the inside story nobody knows to his teenage daughter. Based on a series of epigraphs quoting Richard Fuld of Lehman Brothers—Fuld was called the Gorilla, D’Amico is called the Silverback, etc.—the story mirrors real events. Yet the lifestyles and financial maneuverings depicted all feel generic; if this is an insider’s story, it doesn’t read like one. There is a bewildering amount of interior monologue from the five main female characters; the most banal conversation is plotted, managed, and second-guessed to a deadening degree, creating endless low-level tension that goes nowhere. On the other hand, potentially interesting plotlines, like the one about the nanny's boyfriend's connection to a wannabe investigative blogger who is stalking Madison, are underdeveloped, then tied hastily in a bow in the final pages.
A book that shows just how boring the rich truly are.