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So much fun, and educational too.

Corporate sexism and the mortgage crisis are a laugh a this delightful comic novel, at least.

Belle Cassidy is a managing director at an investment banking firm called Feagin Dixon— she makes $700,000 a year plus an end-of-year bonus for 2007 that comes in just under $3 million. Sure, the money is great, but Belle is also a member of the Glass Ceiling Club—a group of women who have organized secretly to talk about the raging sexism of their work environment. This entails everything from ass-grabbing to frat-style office parties to the exclusion of women from top-level decision-making, including the risk management committee—a real-life fact which, according to former investment banker Sherry (Walls Within Walls, 2010), is at least partly responsible for the subprime mortgage disaster of 2008. In chapters with titles like "Herd on the Street," "Gentlemen Prefer Bonds," and "Dais of the Dicks," she evokes this luxurious yet disgusting world in juicy detail, from a mandatory softball game at a 15-acre estate in "Hedgistan, the area between New York City and Greenwich, Connecticut, where most hedge fund managers live," to the weekly chapel session at "a preschool so elite it had no name on the door, no website, no listing in the phone book," where "the billionaires sit along the front sides of the room" avoiding the "annoying millionaire parents who are pining for a playdate." To get her kids into this school, Belle has had to call in a favor from her ex-fiance, Henry Thomas Wilkins III, who soon turns up in her working life as a key player at one of her major clients. Good thing her husband, Bruce, a hunky, big-spending, nonworking dad, isn't the jealous type. While she's making you laugh, Sherry does an excellent job of explaining what exactly happened in the financial crisis and gives a rare picture of the wide range of ways women in the workplace deal with chauvinism, some as heroes, some as victims, and some as opportunists.

So much fun, and educational too.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1062-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.

In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.

Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-312-57722-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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