A college friendship between two Dartmouth women is tested by post-graduation life in New York City.
M. (our narrator goes by a single initial) and her best friend, Belle Bailey, could not be more different. M. is an ultraserious finance major and varsity squash player who has little interest in or luck with the opposite sex. Belle is a character from a musical, “blond head and hundred-watt smile and apple-red accessories,” given to penning invitations on her monogrammed letterpress cards that say things like “Ice-skating on Occom Pond after class today—bundle up in College colors and I’ll bring the hot cocoa (spiked, of course—shhhhh!).” When both of Belle’s parents are killed in a plane crash, she becomes even more of a romantic figure. After graduation, M. lands a job at Bartholomew Brothers, “the most iconic of the New York investment banks”—as does Chase Breckenridge, the repugnant frat boy Belle's been dating all through college, though why she would be interested in this pig of a fellow remains anyone’s guess. While Belle rides around Manhattan on her red bicycle, taking photos for her airy-fairy lifestyle blog, La Belle Vie, M. toils away at the viciously sexist, competitive, and abusive firm, dealing with the horrific Chase and even less savory characters. The one exception is a whimsical former hot air balloonist named Jeremy, who could not be more out of place in finance but seems made for Belle. Unfortunately, none of these characters ever feels real, and the results of their poor choices are muffled—even the market crash seems to happen offstage. When M. turns down both the job at a socially conscious firm and the ideal man that drop on her doorstep, both are waiting for her when she comes to her senses. Along similar lines, it wasn’t a great decision to start the novel with M.'s wedding, undercutting possible suspense. “It didn’t add up to what I was told it would add up to,” says one character, referring to his career. “That may be the great tagline of our generation, you know,” says M. Unfortunately, it's also the tagline of this book.
Tait’s debut novel is weighed down by stereotypical characters and situations.