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A sequel to the likable Ladies with Options (2001) finds a group of older women becoming financial wizards.

Fifteen years ago, the Larksdale (Minnesota) Ladies made a few small investments in franchised retail stores and ended up owners of the town’s largest manufacturer (and saving the town). Now, in 1999, that same business, Prairie Machine Tools, or PMT, is worth a bundle, and things like Silicon Valley and “IPO” are as familiar to the Ladies as strudel and rhododendron. When a New York multimedia company offers to buy PMT, a deal promising to make millionaires out of a good portion of the town, the Ladies think it may be too good to be true. The story is told mostly by young Callie, a project manager at PMT and the niece of one of the original Larksdale Ladies. Not having been with the company long enough to cash in on the ensuing payday, Callie—with her friends and co-workers Traci, a lawyer, and Vince, the company’s resident genius—while away the months watching their little town turn into a gauche version of Beverly Hills. And the Ladies were right: the big buyout was a bad idea. Not only is everyone spending on the promise of future stock-value, but Sophia and her husband Milt, PMT’s former CEO, are breaking up under the pressure. And of course the reader knows what’s really on the horizon: the bursting of the tech bubble that will turn all those millionaires into unemployed paupers. Can the Larksdale Ladies save the day? Will Vince’s new invention bring back PMT? The strength of Hartwick’s debut lay in its odd cast of characters working in a fish-out-of-water environment and succeeding beyond their dreams. This follow-up puts character (and the Ladies) on the back burner and describes business plans, legal matters, and the minutia of creating a start-up.

A disappointment, considering the chatty, amiable spirit of the first.

Pub Date: April 6th, 2004
ISBN: 0-425-19421-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Berkley
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2004