New book: The Recessionistas, by Alexandra Lebenthal ’86 (Grand Central Publishing)
The author: In her first novel, Lebenthal taps her financial know-how and her own socially prominent life as she tells the story of how the economic crisis of 2008 affected the wives and female executives of Wall Street. Lebenthal is the president and CEO of Lebenthal & Co., and its wealth management division, Alexandra & James, Inc.
The plot: In this chick-lit story about economic reversals for New York’s Upper East Side, hedge fund owner John Cutter is on the verge of financial disaster and in the process of an ugly divorce. When he concocts a scheme to redeem himself, he enlists the help of Lehman Brothers investment banker Blake Somerset, also on the edge of ruin. Somerset’s wife, Grigsby, is unaware of her husband’s tenuous situation until her fairy-tale life starts to unwind. Meanwhile, Cutter’s new executive assistant tries to get to the bottom of the men’s scheme.
Opening lines: “The Tuesday after Labor Day in New York City is the definite sign that summer is over. In certain neighborhoods, and frankly nowhere more so than the Upper East Side of Manhattan, streets that only the week before had been veritable ghost towns suddenly are full of life with razor scooters, towheaded children, shrieking teenagers who haven’t seen one another all summer … and above all, the mothers. These are women of a certain social and economic status who somehow manage to take up most of the already narrow walking area on Madison Avenue.”
Review: “New York investment specialist and socialite Lebenthal is fluent in luxury brands and conveys a delicious sense of irony, and she is her absolute best when clearly explaining how various investment vehicles worked and failed. The rich surely are different from you and me, but oh so entertaining,” wrote Booklist.